I do not often look at tennis stats, but Andy Murray’s marvellous victory in the US open
has encouraged me to dig into some Grand Slam Data, starting with the men’s singles
As has been well-documented, Murray had the dubious distinction, along with his
coach, Ivan Lendl, of losing in his first four Grand Slam Finals.
Lendl’s first win came in the 1984 French Open against John McEnroe. I recall Dan
Maskell commenting ,as McEnoe took a two set lead, that the American was possibly the
best player ever. However, Lendl dug deep and recorded seven more Slams in the next
six years. McEnroe, older by just one year, did not win a title after that season
Prior to his victory, Murray had the well-deserved reputation as the best player never to
win a slam. Assuming that you have to reach a grand slam final to even merit
consideration, he had left his rivals in the dust.
All of those with zero wins and three defeats played more than 50 years ago. Of these,
Eric Sturgess maybe has the best claim: born in 1920, World War II undoubtedly
impacted his opportunities. Including doubles competitions he totalled 15 GS finals.
There are a couple of more recent players who deserve consideration. Àlex Corretja
finished runner up in two French Opens and, at his peak, reached World Number 2,
whilst Robin Soderling also lost two French finals but may never compete again due to
his mononucleosis condition.
The final candidate is Andrei Medvedev. He only reached one Grand Slam final, the 1999
French. However, he has the distinction of being the only player to lose a Grand Slam
tournament whilst winning two or more games than the champion.
He was downed 6–1, 6–2, 4–6, 3–6, 4–6 by Agassi
Not that Murray will care much, but his notoriety of ‘failure’ has morphed into the
obscurity of being a one-time Grand Slam winner along with 65 others.
Here is the distribution, led by Federer’s 17 titles.
Of the sixty-six one-timers, Murray is one of only four who did not win more games than the runner up. He did, however, shade the points score, 160-155
I plan to take a look at the best players ever in a subsequent post