This year’s Italian Open led to the accomplishment of two new milestones for two veteran players. David Ferrer reached 700 match wins, while Tomas Berdych reached 600 match wins.
What do both of them have in common?
They’ve never won a slam.
Let’s add Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to the mix. Three seasoned players, having played on the tour for over a decade. All three have reached a slam final and all three have won at least one Masters event.
So who’s the best among the rest?
The gritty Spaniard. The hard worker. The man known for his work ethic, his never die attitude, and the man who made it against all odds. He’s not tall at 5″9. He doesn’t have a booming serve or a crushing forehand, nor does he have an imposing backhand or even an unconventional style like say, serve and volley to help his game. Simply put, he’s a chaser. He’s one of the most fit and agile players on tour, chasing every ball down and moving his opponents around to squeeze a point out of them.
Or at least was. He’s been on a slouch lately.
He has 700 match wins and around 341 match losses, which is a 67.24% win-loss percentage. He’s reached one slam final in 2013, losing the French to Rafael Nadal. He’s reached 7 Masters finals, winning one, one year end final, losing to Roger Federer in 2007. He has 26 titles, has reached 51 finals and is the 7th highest in career earnings. In the last ten years, Ferrer has finished in the top ten seven times, a remarkable accomplishment that demonstrates just how consistent he really is.
That’s a brilliant, brilliant career, apart from the fact that he doesn’t have a slam.
The “Berd”. The man who beat Djokovic and Federer in a tournament (Wimbledon 2010). The man with a flawless and picture perfect style of play, with an elegant forehand, classic backhand and a dependable serve. He reached one slam final in 2010, losing to Nadal in Wimbledon, has reached 4 Masters finals, having won one and has 13 titles in all with 17 more finals. No year end final, a factor to consider seeing that he’s participated and qualified more than Ferrer and Tsonga.
He just reached 600 match wins, has a 65.84% win-loss record, and is seemingly an ever lasting presence in the world of tennis. Berdych has been facing some poor form himself, however it doesn’t seem as dire as David Ferrer’s. He reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2016 and the quarters in the two other slams he played. Same story, consistent, but not enough to win a slam.
Jo Wilfried Tsonga
Known for his offensive baseline play and being able to mix his game as the need arises (having utilized serve and volley often in his career). His booming serve, great athleticism and overall offensive game got him to the Australian Open final in 2008, losing it to Djokovic. Along with this, he’s reached the year end finals in 2011, has 2 Masters and 14 titles in all, two coming in 2017. He’s by far the most consistent player among the three, routinely making the second week of slams.
He recently crossed 400 match wins and has the best win loss percentage among the three, with a 68.76% win loss percentage. He’s reached the quarters of all slams, and the semi of three slams at least twice.
Bonus: Gael Monfils
The showman was touted to be the next big thing, but considering his inconsistent form, his lack of slam or year end finals or a masters title, he doesn’t make the cut.
Extremely talented and definitely will feature in the highlight reel of crazy shots in tennis, but not as the best player to not have won a slam.
So Who’s the Best Among the Rest?
David Ferrer. 700 match wins puts him in an elite club of players to have reached that milestone, all while not winning a slam. His 2015 season was brilliant, especially considering that he was 33. He probably works harder than anyone else on tour and has made it so far while not having a particular “strength” to aid his game. He’s consistently made quarters of slams from 2007-2015 too.
His drop in form is unfortunate, but considering the length of his career, without any serious injury, it isn’t surprising. He has a lingering tendon issue and should probably take some time off.
But knowing the Spaniard and his work ethic, he’s probably not even skipping his lats.
Can They Win a Slam?
Extremely improbable. Ferrer is probably retiring after 2017, Berdych has seen drop in form and is out of the top ten. Tsonga has been consistent, but doesn’t seem to have the game to make a dent. And with becoming a father before Monte Carlo, his priorities now lie more on family. He’s 32, Berdych is 31 and running on 32 and Ferrer is 35, and the trio aren’t getting any younger.
I’d be happy if they won, but it just doesn’t seem possible.