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10 players who missed a career Grand Slam by not winning the French Open ft. Pete Sampras and Boris Becker

Boris Becker and Pete Sampras are two notable players who never won the French Open
Boris Becker and Pete Sampras are two notable players who never won the French Open
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Dr. Balraj Shukla

The feat of winning every Grand Slam (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open) at least once is called a Career Slam. Each Slam differs based on the surface it is played on and poses its own unique set of challenges.

In the singles category, eight men (Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic) and 10 women (Maureen Connolly, Doris Hart, Shirley Irvin, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova) have achieved this feat.

Out of these, four men (Laver, Emerson, Djokovic, Nadal) and five women (Court, Navratilova, Evert, Graf, Williams) have won Career Slams more than once.

Over the years, there have been some legendary players who have won multiple Majors but failed to win a single title at Roland Garros, thereby missing out on the Career Slam. Here's a look at 10 of them:

#1 Arthur Ashe

Arthur Ashe was the first black man to represent the USA at the Davis Cup. Ashe won the first edition of the US Open in the Open Era and later won singles titles at the Australian Open (1970) and Wimbledon (1975).

One of the most lowest points reached in tennis history...#AusOpen #AO2021 #USOpen #USO2021 #Ashe #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/zpMMtRhAPC

At Roland Garros, Ashe's best results came in 1970 and 1971, when he made the quarterfinals. In 1970, as the fourth seed, he lost to fifth seed Zeljko Franulovic in five sets. The following year, seeded second, Ashe lost his quarter-final match to unseeded compatriot Frank Froehling.

However, Ashe did win the French Open doubles title in 1971, partnering Marty Riessen.

#2 John Newcombe

John Newcombe was dominant in the late '60s and early '70s and is one of the few men to be ranked No. 1 in both singles and doubles. He won Slam titles before and during the Open Era. Newcombe has won two Australian Opens, two US Opens and three Wimbledon titles.

A winner of 17 doubles Slam titles and five Davis Cup titles, Newcombe never made it past the quarterfinals of the French Open. He made the last eight twice in 1965 and 1969, but lost to Fred Stolle and Tom Okker respectively.

Most men's major titles without a French Open:Sampras 14Tilden 10Connors, Djokovic* 8Sears, Renshaw, Larned, Newcombe, McEnroe 7

#3 Virginia Wade

Former World No. 2 Virginia Wade was the first US Open ladies singles winner of the Open Era. She won the Australian Open in 1972 and Wimbledon in 1977. She finished as a quarterfinalist twice at the French Open (1970 and 1972), losing to Karen Krantzcke and Billie Jean King respectively. Wade's only title at the French Open was came in the ladies doubles event alongside Margaret Court in 1973.

British female Grand Slam singles champions of the Open Era:Emma Raducanu - #USOpen 2021Virginia Wade – Wimbledon 1977Sue Barker – French Open 1976Wade – Australian Open 1972Ann Jones – Wimbledon 1969Wade – US Open 1968

#4 Jimmy Connors

One of the best seasons ever produced by a man on the singles circuit was in 1974, when Jimmy Connors won 99 of the 103 matches he played. He won titles at three Slams that year, but missed out on the French Open, where he was not allowed to participate.

This was owing to the fact that along with Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Connors had signed up to participate in the inaugural World Team Tennis League, whose dates clashed with the French Open. The French Tennis Federation President banned Connors and Goolagong from playing at Philippe-Chatrier that year.

Connors made the semis of the French Open on four occasions. He also finished as the runner-up in doubles in 1973, partnering Owen Davidson.

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#5 Stefan Edberg

One of only two men in the Open Era to be ranked No. 1 simultaneously in both singles and doubles, six-time singles Slam winner Stefan Edberg came eerily close to completing the Career Slam. He made the final of the French Open in 1989, where he lost in five sets to Michael Chang. He even finished as the runner-up in the doubles category at Roland Garros (1986) partnering Anders Jarryd.

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#6 Boris Becker

Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg formed a thrilling rivalry in late 1980s. Apart from occupying the top spot and winning six singles Slam titles each, another thing they had in common was their lack of success at the French Open. Becker thrice made the semis at Roland Garros, losing on each occasion.

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#7 Pete Sampras

Pete Sampras was widely hailed as the greatest singles tennis player before the arrival of the Big 3. The American won 14 singles Slam titles (seven Wimbledons, five US Opens and two Australian Opens).

However, Sampras could never win the French Open. The former World No. 1's best showing at Roland Garros was a run to the semifinals in 1996, when he lost to eventual champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov.

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#8 Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis won 25 Major titles in her career - five singles, 13 women's doubles and seven mixed doubles. A former World No. 1 in both singles and doubles, the Swiss came up short in a match that could have helped her complete a Calendar Slam in 1997. She lost the 1997 French Open final to Iva Majoli.

A year later, she again made it all the way to the French Open final only to be denied by Steffi Graf.

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#9 Lindsay Davenport

Four-time year-end No. 1 Lindsay Davenport won the singles title at the US Open (1998), Wimbledon (1999) and the Australian Open (2000). The closest she came to capturing the French Open women's singles title was in 1998, when she lost to eventual champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario in the semis.

Davenport has also won three doubles Slams. She came close to completing a Career Slam in doubles, but lost in six finals.

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#10 Angelique Kerber

The only active player (man or woman) who needs only a French Open title to complete the Career Slam is Angelique Kerber. The former World No. 1 won the Australian Open and the US Open in 2016, and Wimbledon in 2018.

Kerber's best showing at Roland Garros came in 2012 and 2018, when she made the quarterfinals. The German last won a claycourt title at the 2016 Stuttgart Open.

In her last three appearances at Roland Garros, Kerber has lost in the first round in straight sets. She has thus far struggled in the 2022 season, winning only two of the 10 matches she has played on tour (including the Billie Jean King Cup).

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Edited by Nihal Taraporvala
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