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The underachievers in men’s tennis


After Roger Federer’s 19th Grand Slam win one has to feel for some of the underachievers in modern tennis, once thought to be the future of the sport.

With Roger Federer’s emphatic victory at Wimbledon just behind us, it is clear we are dealing with one of the greats of any sport. The current crop of tennis players has delivered some truly remarkable talent, like Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who have all shown themselves as relentless workers on and off the court, never giving their opponents time to breathe. The sport has become so fiercely competitive that the amount of work and practice you have to put in is greater than ever, but what these stars truly excel at is the psyche.

Somebody like Nadal would never give up on a match, regardless of how bad it looks for him. He will run down every ball and ask you the question every time and it’s up to the other player to prove that he has what it takes. This is the difference to some of the players who might have the same talent (or even more) but don’t have the physical and / or mental stamina to compete with the top bunch.


Let’s take a look at some of the guys who have always been considered highly talented, but never quite delivered on their promise of brilliance:

Stanislas Wawrinka

While many may argue with this choice as Wawrinka has won 3 Grand Slams, you merely have to look at his game to understand the reasoning. Wawrinka has the ultimate package – huge first serve, amazing backhand and forehand and a very good touch. There is hardly anything he can’t do. The problem with Wawrinka seems to be mostly mental because he struggles against some lesser opponents when his rivals have easy matches. The lack of motivation has seen him go out of majors and other tournaments way too early for a man of his talent.

Jo-Wilfred Tsonga

Unlike Wawrinka, who has been becoming better in the latter stages of his career, Tsonga had a very promising start of his career. After reaching the Australian Open final in 2008, many were prophesizing that he would become a multiple grand slam winner. That promise never worked out as Tsonga has struggled with physical fitness and mental fortitude, often seen walking dejected on court, not fighting through the problems like someone like Nadal is known to do. Similar to Wawrinka, the talent is there and it’s just down to lack of belief for Tsonga, especially against the top guys.

Grigor Dimitrov


While still relatively young, Dimitrov has had plenty of chances to shine on the big stage and break through. He has had big matches against Nadal, Djokovic and Federer, where he narrowly lost. The psyche took over and usually after a big loss, Dimitrov needs a lot of time to recover. In order to make it big, he needs to focus on his mind set and just plough through his losses, not dwell on them too much as he is known to do.

Fabio Fognini

Fognini can be absolutely brilliant, matching any shot maker in the tennis world. That is at his best. At his worst, he can lose against just about anybody. The consistency has always been a problem with him and he has never even come close to winning a major. There are simply too many ups and downs in his game, presumably due to his temperament, which has often been displayed on court.


Alexandr Dolgopolov

When he first burst onto the scene, he had the flair of a great player and the ego to match. However, his self-confidence was very fragile and consequently his ego would quickly become deflated after each painful loss. The skills are definitely there, it’s merely a question of putting in enough work and staying in matches mentally.


Juan Martin del Potro

It’s probably unfair to put him on his list, only because most of his problems stem from his many injuries. Regardless, he has managed to win a grand slam and hopefully can challenge the biggest players again, like he did at the 2016 Olympic Games, where he won the silver, beating Djokoc and Nadal along the way.

Rok Podgrajsek