food for thought: looking at the also-rans

Note: this was written by contributor Chris.

Since the U.S. Open is coming up, I thought I would take a look at some GS stats and who has been the best “also-ran” at these tourneys — i.e., the player who has lost the most number of times to the eventual champion whether it has been in the finals or the first round.

Here’s a breakdown of everyone who’s lost twice or more to the eventual Slam Champion since the 2003 Australian Open:

9 – Hewitt
5 – Roddick, Henman
4 – Federer (losses were ’05-’07 FO vs. Nadal, and ’04 AO vs. Safin), JC Ferrero, Djokovic, Nalbandian
3 – Gasquet, Kiefer
2 – Nadal, Agassi, Del Potro, Haas, Bjorkman, Davydenko, Baghdatis, Minar, Santoro, O. Rochus, Mathieu, Ljubicic, Malisse, Grosjean, Coria

I’m sure it’s no surprise that Hewitt is at the top of this list. He has even trumped up this stat himself in press conferences. Seven of these losses came in a row from the 2004 Australian Open to the 2005 US Open (he didn’t play Roland Garros in 2005). If Hewitt had different draws (or that Federer guy didn’t exist), could he be in Top 5 GOAT contention?

Henman has lost five times to the eventual champion, most of these at Wimbledon, of course, but he should feel good about this stat.

Why isn’t Agassi higher?

And Djokovic is already at four losses and he’s played only 13 slams. On the other hand, Del Potro is two for five.

I’m surprised Moya and Hrbaty didn’t make the list; they seem to be contenders at most events they enter.

Comments

  1. says

    Interesting post. Interesting that Raja’s losses are expressed with detail but no one else’s. And no comment on Roddick’s record. Roddick has lost three Slam finals (2 Wimby’s; 1 US Open) and two Slam semifinals (Oz and Wimby) to Raja since Melbourne 2003. So if Raja didn’t exist….. GOAT discussions come across as pointless to me, but since it’s here… If Raja didn’t exist….

    The Henman summary is incorrect. He’s lost to Raja twice and Andy once at the US Open and Ferrero once at Roland Garros. He only loss to Raja once at Wimbledon, so most of his losses since 2003 have not been at Wimbledon.

    Agassi isn’t higher up because 2003 was the last year he played all four Slams.

    Hrbaty and Moya a contender at most Slam events they enter? I can’t say I agree with that.

  2. says

    Even though I’m not a Roddick fan, I have to agree with Craig that if Raja didn’t exist Roddick would have a heckuva lot more majors: he’s lost to him in 3 finals, and 2 semifinals! Hewitt, i’m not so willing to give the benefit of the doubt too. Hewitt has lost multiple times to Raja but only a few times late in a major, I think someone else would have taken him out.

    Henman’s semifinal losses have been tragic, and he really should go down as one of the ultimate “also rans.”

  3. says

    Nice to see one doesn’t have to be a fan to give Roddick his just due. I don’t want to assume Chris isn’t a fan, but his silence on Andy in this post is quite loud.

    In Roddick’s entire career, he’s lost to the eventual champion 8 times in 25 consecutive Slams contested.

    Who can forget that fifth set against Hewitt in the quarterfinals of the 2001 US Open when the chair up overruled a call on the opposite sideline late in the fifth? Certainly not Andy. It was the first time he played at Flushing Meadows.

    He also lost to Goran in the 3rd round at Wimbledon earlier that summer the first time he played in London.

    In 2002, he lost in the quarterfinals of the Open to Sampras.

    But I agree with Mad, Henman takes the trophy as the “ultimate also-ran.” He simply choked too many times in too many Wimbledon semifinals. Quiet as it’s kept, though, Henman has never won a single title on grass in his long career.

  4. says

    I expressed Roger’s losses in detail since he seldomly loses in GSs and has only lost to 2 players in GSs since 2003.

    Didn’t comment on Roddick’s record because I didn’t know what to say, frankly. But yes, with his losses coming in Finals and SFs, I did not give him his just due.

    I was surprised to see Henman’s name up that high on the list which was why I singled him out. He might be the ultimate “also-ran” in recent tennis history, but I do agree with you that what speaks the loudest is his lack of a single title on grass (a stat I was not aware of). You think he would’ve went after at least one easy Newport throwaway grass title.

    Good note about Agassi as well. I just ran the numbers up really quickly at work and put little thought into my “analysis.”

    And when I said Hrbaty and Moya were “contenders” … I didn’t mean that they had a legitimate shot at the title but, for the most part, I would consider them solid consistent performers whose names I would’ve expected to be on there.

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