Russian Daniil Medvedev It was the last of a curious list of names, a curious list of tennis players who have played the role of executioners, spoilers, and ‘anti-heroes’. They have had to ruin an enormous achievement such as being able to lift all four Grand Slams in the same season. That is, what is called the ‘Calendar Grand Slam‘. Novak Djokovic he has been the last victim, but there has been more in history. Tennis players who, even having achieved the big four, were able to win them in the same year or do it more times even. We take the time machine and take a walk through the history of tennis.
Fred Perry, 1933
Curiously, one of the most illustrious rackets in the history of tennis was also an executioner at the time and avoided what he did, win the big four. Perry ruined the enormous feat that would have been to win the four Grand Slams and in the same season more if possible of the Australian Jack Crawford. Winner of 6 Grand Slams, Crawford is not a name as well known as others like Perry or Lacoste among other things for not winning all four ‘majors’. Although Lacoste did not achieve such a feat either. Fred Perry beat Crawford in the final of the US Open in 1933. Interesting parallels 88 years later and that is that Perry, like Medvedev, have inaugurated their Slams record in New York and have done so by ruining the perfect Grand Slam for their adversary in the end.
Ken Rosewall, 1956
Another legend like the Australian who also had to be an executioner, play the role of baddie in the film and disrupt a dream ending. On this occasion it happened in 1956 and logically with New York as the setting for being the last great of the year. That year it was his compatriot Lew Hoad, of whom few have read or heard of who was dominating the tennis scene. He had won the other greats and he only needed to finish the job on the New York grass. Rosewall stopped him by winning his fourth Grand Slam tournament. In Rosewall’s case, he wouldn’t complete the poker either. Known with their four lost finals at Wimbledon.
Helena Sukova, 1984
We keep moving forward in time and in such a mythical year for tennis as 1984 we ran into the semifinals of the Australian Open, which at that time was still played in December and on grass. The Czechoslovak Helena Sukova faced the all-powerful Martina Navratilova, who already had 11 Grand Slam titles. The previous year he had already completed the Grand Slam but he wanted the most difficult, the ‘Calendar Grand Slam’. In 84 ‘he had nothing left but Kooyong grass to accomplish such a feat. A young Sukova, who would not win any majors despite playing four finals, eliminated her in the semis. “I was more concerned about playing Martina than her chance of winning the Grand Slam,” she recently commented to the New York Times. “I was a newcomer, I just looked at my game and improving it, I was far from thinking about breaking records and things like that.” She won 1-6, 6-3 and 7-5 that game although she later lost in the final to the well-known American Chris Evert.
Roberta Vinci, 2015
Here we already go back to very recently with other Grand Slam semifinals. They were at the US Open in 2015. And it was the Italian Roberta Vinci, already more than an expert, who happened to be the bad guy in the face of the great legend and local idol, Serena Williams. The youngest of the saga had already won the other three and at home it seemed that it was the icing on a perfect cake. He was looking for his fifth consecutive final in New York and his fourth Slam there in a row. But it could not be. The varied style, with topspin and cut and also the transalpine’s net game unhinged Williams who would yield 2-6, 6-4 and 6-4. He has never won the title again at Flushing Meadows since doing so in 2014 and has only captured two more Grand Slams since then, falling within one of Margaret Court’s overall record. Vinci was well aware of the weight of history in that match, unlike Sukova years ago. “I know she played an important role. Winning that tournament was an incredible record for her, and it affected her playing with a very significant pressure load,” Vinci recently said.