The last decade of the ATP Tour saw only six men win a grand slam tournament. Here are the best players from 2010 to 2019 who failed to claim a first major title.
Followers of the WTA Tour saw a whopping 19 women climb the mountain and claim a major title in the last decade, but fans of the ATP Tour have seen the Big 3 dominate with only six men able to achieve the pinnacle of the sport and win a grand slam.
Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, along with Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, combined to win 39 of the 40 slams, often competing against each other in the finals as well. Marin Cilic’s breakthrough at the 2014 US Open was the only other time a player was able to win a major between 2010 and 2019.
That being said, the last decade did not lack its share of talented men who were able to win Masters 1000s and other high-level tournaments, with some falling just one win short of adding a major to their trophy cabinets. Here are the top five players of the last decade who failed to win their first slam (sorry Del Potro):
Honorable Mentions: Robin Soderling & Kei Nishikori
Soderling started off the decade on fire, making the finals of the 2010 French Open, winning a Masters 1000, and rising to #5 in the world. Unfortunately, he had a severe bout of mononucleosis that forced him to end his career prematurely, leaving fans wondering if he could have been the decades earlier version of Cilic or Wawrinka.
Having been hampered by injuries, Nishikori has likely been kept from achieving higher levels of success during his career. He finished runner-up at the 2014 US Open to Cilic, has consistently made grand slam quarterfinals, and peaked at #5. However, he has only amassed 11 titles, all of which have come at ATP 250s and ATP 500s, and rarely challenged the Big 4.
5. Alexander Zverev
Zverev at fifth on this list? Though he has had little success in slams, he has been one of the best players in Masters 1000s outside of the Big 4 this past decade. With titles in Madrid, Rome, and Canada, as well as a WTF victory in 2018 over Novak Djokovic, Zverev has set himself up as one of the top young guns on the tour.
24 top 10 wins and 11 titles since 2016 alone, and it is no wonder why Zverev continues to be so hyped. Hopefully, his partnership with Ferrer (also on this list) can get him to the next level.
4. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Tsonga made a name for himself at the 2008 Australian Open, losing to Djokovic in the finals, but he never achieved that level of success this decade. A plethora of slam semifinals and quarterfinals, an amazing Masters title in Toronto 2014 (beating Djokovic, Murray, and Federer en route), and a WTF runner-up rounded out a solid decade for the Frenchman, though some claim he still underachieved relative to his talent level.
3. David Ferrer
Possibly the hardest working player on tour, David Ferrer was physically shorter and lacked a strong serve, but he always left everything out on the court. Runner-up at the 2013 French Open, winning a Masters 1000 (and losing in a Masters final six more times), 20 titles since 2010, and rising to #3 in the world in 2013 rounds out a list of incredible achievements in an era with little room for grinders.
2. Tomas Berdych
Perennially put down as a steppingstone for the Big 4, Tomas Berdych boasted an unusual level of consistency and strong wins that allowed him to compete with the best for most of the decade. He lost to Nadal at the 2010 Wimbledon final, was the only player outside the Big 4 to make a semifinal at every grand slam, reached #4 in the world, and beat each member of the Big 4 at least once in a major (Djokovic and Federer twice).
He may have slightly lower accolades than Ferrer since 2010, but he was more talented, more consistent in big tournaments, and a greater threat to the top players than Ferrer ever was.
1. Dominic Thiem
Taking the top spot is Austria’s Dominic Thiem. Outside of Nadal, Thiem has been the best player on clay for several years, taking back-to-back second-place finishes at the French Open. His raw power and talent have allowed him to collect 16 titles between 2015 and 2019, as well as a runner-up at the 2019 WTF, an Indian Wells title, and the #4 ranking on tour.
Thiem is possibly the most talented and best-positioned player on tour who can push for a maiden slam in the 2020s. His heartbreaking 5-set loss to Djokovic at the 2020 Australian Open proved he is now a true threat on hard courts. If the ATP Tour resumes as planned, Thiem could very well make history this September at either the US Open or Roland Garros.