“Heavy lies the head that wears the crown.”

It is very hard getting to the top. It requires skill, speed, endurance, family support, and a sage like concentration. But, they say it is harder to stay at the top. Once you are there, to find the motivation to train to your maximum limits, be on the road and win tournaments, knock off the contenders, the battle rages on. The following is a list of tennis players who embody the failure to do so. They were knocked off the perch quickly for some reason or the other, not necessarily a failure on their part. One common thread which runs through all these tennis players is that these were clay court specialists. Now, if that is a coincidence, or some deeper forces at work, it is impossible to tell.


Patrick Rafter


Reign as No. 1 (in weeks): 1 (July, 1999)
Grand Slams Won: 2 (US Open 1997, ’98)

Now, Patrick Rafter is perhaps the most successful Australian player of the past 20 years. The tennis star won 2 US Open titles, and finished runner-up at Wimbledon, twice. But, for some reason, he holds the somewhat dubious record of being the No. 1 for only 1 week, the shortest reign in ATP history. Rafter’s entire life was spent proving his critics and peers, particularly Sampras, wrong, who had dubbed him “not great” and a “one slam wonder”.

Rafter was also Roger Federer’s first Grand Slam opponent. He decided to make a comeback in 2014, to partner Hewitt at Australian Open 2014, but as expected, the comeback fell flat on its face.


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