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Greatest players never to win a Grand Slam

Jo Carter August 20, 2010
Tim Henman came within two points of reaching the Wimbledon final in 2001 © Getty Images

Andy Murray's first career title of the year in Toronto could not have come at a better time, with the world No. 4 showing signs of a revival just weeks before the final Grand Slam of the year - his favourite event.

But while the British No. 1 has been a consistent top-five player for the last two years, he will never be considered a great player before he proves himself on the grand stage and wins an elusive Major title. We take a look at some of the best players never to have won a Grand Slam.

Todd Martin
Martin was unfortunate enough to reach his peak during the 90s dominance of Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras. During his breakthrough year in 1994, he reached his first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, falling in straight sets to Sampras. Proving he was not a flash in the pan, he went on to reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon (where he was the only person to take a set off eventual champion Sampras), and the US Open (falling this time to Agassi). As well as helping USA win the Davis Cup in 1995, Martin reached a career-high of No. 4 after reaching the 1999 US Open final, where he led Agassi 2-1 before eventually falling 6-4 6-7(5) 6-7(2) 6-3 6-2.

Tim Henman
Until Murray burst onto the scene, Henman was Britain's most successful men's tennis player in years. While Tiger Tim fell short of becoming Wimbledon champion - in fact he never made a Grand Slam singles final - he hit a career high of No. 4, reached six Grand Slam semi-finals and was a regular feature in the world top 20 between 1997 and 2005. In a time when Sampras and Agassi were notching up Grand Slam titles, Henman reached semi-finals on all three surfaces, reaching the last-four at Roland Garros in 2004 and the US Open semis the same year, where he fell to eventual champion Roger Federer. But the eponymous hero of Henman Hill, he undoubtedly enjoyed his best success at Wimbledon, where he reached four semi-finals and four quarter-finals. Henman came within two points of a Wimbledon final in 2001, where he beat the emerging Federer (who had knocked out defending champion Sampras) in the quarter-finals, but lost a rain-disrupted five-set marathon to two-time finalist and wildcard Goran Ivanisevic, who went on to beat Pat Rafter in five sets.

Dinara Safina
The younger sister of former Australian Open champion Marat Safin, Safina owns the unenviable claim of being one of only two former world No. 1s to have never won a Grand Slam. When she became world No. 1 in April 2009, she and Marat became the first brother and sister to achieve the top ranking. In 2008, Safina recorded victories over Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic to become the first player in Tour history to defeat three different reigning No. 1s in the same season. She reached her first Grand Slam final at the French Open, where, seeded 14th, she upset three top-ten players (including top seed Sharapova) on her way to the final but fell in straight sets to Ana Ivanovic, who won her first Grand Slam title. She was denied by Serena Williams in Melbourne in January 2009, but her best chance came at Roland Garros that year, when on her best surface she was the top seed, having won three consecutive titles on clay in Stuttgart, Rome and Madrid. After storming through the opening rounds - dropping just five games in her opening four matches, she cruised into the final, but fell to pieces as her serve deserted her, double faulting on match point to hand Svetlana Kuznetsova a 6-4 6-2 victory.

Nikolay Davydenko has reached four Grand Slam semi-finals © Getty Images

Nikolay Davydenko
A player equally as comfortable on clay as on the hard courts, Davydenko may be the greatest player never to reach a Grand Slam final. The former world No. 3 has been a consistent presence in the top ten since June 2005, and won the year-end ATP World Tour finals at the O2 last year, (having reached the final the year before). He is a player that nobody wants to see in their side of the draw and with 20 career titles, he is capable of beating any player on his day - in fact, he is one of few players to have a positive head-to-head record with Nadal, with five wins in nine meetings. He reached his first Grand Slam semi-final at the 2005 French Open, and despite three more semi-final appearances, has never progressed past the last-four.

Henri Leconte
A Grand Slam junior titlist and doubles champion, Leconte never won a Major singles title. After bursting onto the scene as a talented youngster, he turned professional after winning the French Open junior title in 1981. He then paired up with fellow Frenchman Yannick Noah, to win the French Open men's doubles in 1984. In 1986 he reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon to reach a career-high of No. 5. But it was in 1988 that he came closest - reaching the final at the French Open, but despite the fierce support of a partisan French crowd, he fell in straight sets to two-time champion Mats Wilander.

Jelena Jankovic
Like Leconte, Jankovic has a junior Grand Slam title and a doubles crown to her name, but has never won a singles Major. And like Safina, Jankovic has been world No. 1 but has never won a Grand Slam. After winning the 2001 Australian Open girls' title, Jankovic became the darling of the British press at Wimbledon in 2007, when she partnered Jamie Murray to the mixed doubles title. While the pair denied they were romantically involved, there was a clear chemistry on the court, and she became the first Serbian to win a Grand Slam title when they defeated Jonas Bjorkman and Alicia Molik in the final. The following year she became world No. 1 for the first time and went close when she reached the final of the US Open, but she was denied by Serena Williams in straight sets. Also a semi-finalist in Melbourne and Paris, she has been one of the most consistent players on the women's tour in recent years, having never fallen out of the top ten after breaking in at the beginning of the 2007 season.

Thomas Enqvist
While Sweden's rich tennis history with the likes of Bjorn Borg and Mats Wilander will ensure that Enqvist will never be remembered as one of the country's greatest players, he was arguably a better player than Thomas Johansson, who won the 2002 Australian Open. The No. 1 junior in the world in 1991, he won Australian and Wimbledon boys' singles titles, but failed to replicated the success at senior level. Boasting victories over the likes of Pete Sampras, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi, Enqvist won 19 career titles, but reached just one Grand Slam final, where he was a set up in the 1999 Australian Open final to Yevgeny Kafelnikov before losing in four.

Miloslav Mecir
Mecir arguably has a prize rarer than a Grand Slam singles trophy, although it may not be any consolation to the Czech that he never won a Grand Slam singles title. While there are four chances a year to win a Major, the Olympic Games comes around every four years, and Mecir beat Tim Mayotte in the final in Seoul to become the proud owner of an Olympic gold medal. Nicknamed the Big Cat for his grace and speed across the court, Mecir reached two Grand Slam singles finals, at the US Open in 1986 and the Australian Open in 1989, on both occasions falling in straight sets to compatriot Ivan Lendl. He reached the semi-finals of all four Grand Slams, and at Wimbledon in 1988 was two sets up against third seed and eventual champion Stefan Edberg before falling 6-4 6-2 4-6 3-6 4-6.

Elena Dementieva won the 2008 Olympic gold medal © Getty Images

Elena Dementieva
Part of the Russian revolution in women's tennis, Dementieva is one of the game's most consistent performers. Another Olympic gold medallist, Dementieva has reached nine Grand Slam semi-finals over a period of ten years. After reaching her first semi-final at the US Open in 2000, Dementieva reached her first Grand Slam final at the 2004 French Open, where she upset Lindsay Davenport, and stormed past Amelie Mauresmo, before suffering a collapse against fellow Russian Anastasia Myskina 6-1 6-2. Just a few months later she was in the final again at Flushing Meadows, but after beating Mauresmo and Jennifer Capriati, she was beaten once more by a Russian, this time Svetlana Kuznetsova. But her best chance arguably came in 2009, where she found herself in the form of her life. After winning back-to-back titles in Auckland and Sydney (beating Serena Williams on the way), she had the chance to become world No. 1 for the first time. But after easing through to the semi-finals, her 15-match winning streak was ended by eventual champion Serena Williams, who she had beaten just two weeks earlier in Sydney.

Mark Philippoussis
Compared to Jimmy Connors' 109 career titles, Philippoussis' 11 may pale into insignificance, but the big-serving Australian may have achieved so much more had his career not been plagued by knee injuries. After becoming the youngest player in the year-end top 50 in 1995, Philippoussis claimed the scalp of Pete Sampras in the straight sets at the third round at the US Open. He reached his first Grand Slam final at the 1998 US Open, where he lost to fellow Australian Pat Rafter, and in 2003 he was on the verge of his first Grand Slam singles title at the All England Club - had it not been for a certain Roger Federer who won his first of six Wimbledon titles.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Jo Carter Close
Jo Carter is an assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk