A one shot (or almost) and then goes away. Examples of comets and shooting stars who shone too bright, too briefly on the ATP or WTA tours for anyone to contemplate them. In music, it's called a one hit wonder.
1 / The holiday of Mr Hadow
The honour of opening this series goes to Patrick Francis (Frank) Hadow. This Briton made history while he was bored during his holiday in London and decided to try his luck at Wimbledon. It was in 1878 and the Grand Slam was not as exclusive as it is now. The native of Regent's Park had a plantation in Ceylon and surprised everyone, and even the defending champion, Spencer Gore, by using a revolutionary weapon at the time: the lob. He entered the legend of the tournament, with a title he never even bothered to defend. He waited until 1925 to return on the lawn of his exploits as a guest of honour. It seems that, in fact, tennis wasn't really his cup of tea.
2/ The Golden Set of Julian Reister
Much closer to us, here’s one who had his fifteen minutes of fame, without winning any Grand Slam tournament. Or even any ATP tournament actually. His name: Reister. Julian Reister. On the last 23rd of August, for his second appearance at Flushing Meadows, the 27 years old German, who was playing the best season of his career (he finished it 86th in the world), smashed his compatriot Tim Putz (6-7, 6-4, 6-0) during a mad final set during which he won 24 straight points, becoming the second player in history to achieve a Golden Set after Bill Scanlon (1983). A feat that didn’t stop Reister to fall against an unknown player, Jarmere Jenkins (620th World at the time), in the next round.
3/ Edmondson, the cool ironmonger
If he's less known that Cash, Rafter and Hewitt, all of them have dreamed of following in his footsteps and win the Australian Open. But the last Aussie to appear in the record is Mark Edmondson. In 1976, the young ironmonger aged 22 and 212th the world decided to go to Melbourne, 600 miles away from his home in Gosford. That year, due to a particularly poor line up and horrible weather conditions (the final had to be interrupted twice because of terrible wind gusts), it was written that the title had to go to a local. For proof, in the quarterfinals, the only players left were all Australians! Finally, Mark Edmondson picked up the trophy after defeating John Newcombe and Ken Rosewall. He then reached the 15th place in the world and won five other titles. Including four on Australian soil.
4/ Gaudio, the ultimate opportunist
Gaston Gaudio Norberto’s or «the ultimate opportunist» according to Wikipedia, had to be in this Top 10. Winner of Roland Garros in 2004 at the expense of Guillermo Coria, he became the second Argentine to win a Grand Slam title. He also became the second player in tennis history to win in a tournament of this calibre after saving a match point in the final. By joining Guillermo Vilas amongst the big boys, Gaudio was thus promised with a great future. But in the end, despite a stunning backhand, he only won a total of eight titles and never passed the round of 16 in a Grand Slam ever again. He retired in 2011 without really moving anyone.
5/ Santa Barbara
Before the Williams sisters, women's tennis already had its share of female siblings with the Jordan family. Barbara and Kathy. If the last was a doubles specialist, the first had a pretty good career, not brilliant except in 1979. That year, enjoying an Australian Open neglected by the best, Barbara Jordan won the final by defeating her compatriot Sharon Walsh. But this was to remain the only title of her career on the professional tour. The only one but what a great one.
6/ Kournikova, ace of heart and king of diamonds
Junior world champion at 14 years old (1995), member of the Russian Fed Cup by BNP Paribas at the same age and semi-finalist at Wimbledon at 16, it was said that she would have a great career. Who? Well Anna Kournikova of course. For unfulfilled promises, the ex-girlfriend of Enrique Iglesias is a true gem. Despite her talent, she left the tour without any title to her name. Blame it, apparently, to a fall on the damn grass of Eastbourne. It was in 1998 while she had just defeated Steffi Graff in the previous round, the Russian stumbled in the grass and broke her thumb. Forced to stay away from the courts for months, she used her convalescence to strut in high society. Back in 99, despite a conspicuously absent service, she had a particularly good year in 2000 when, without winning any tournament, she played the finals of Moscow and eight semi-finals. In short, a lot of assets but very little success. Which allowed her to be included in the encyclopaedia... of poker. Indeed, the term Anna Kournikova refers to a hand consisting of the Ace of heart (for "A") and the king of diamonds (for "K"). Explanation of Elkan Allan and Hannah Mackay, authors of The Poker Encyclopaedia: "It looks great but never wins."
7/ 94, Berasategui’s year
The year 1994, Alberto Berasategui started it as 36th in the world, his highest ranking to date. But then the 29 years old Spanish player decided to leave his relative anonymity. Relying on an extremely powerful forehand and an extreme racquet grip, using the same side of the screen for forehands and backhands, he won no less than seven of the fourteen titles of his career (on clay) that year. He even moved up to the final of Roland Garros where he fell against the defending champion Sergi Bruguera. If he stayed until 2000 in the world's Top 100, Alberto Berasategui will forever remains the comet of 1994...
8/ Brian Teacher, the other side of the check
Used to roam the second tier tournaments, Brian Teacher remains as one of the most unexpected Grand Slam winner. And once again, it's in Melbourne that the American had his fifteen minutes of fame by winning the final (1980) against the Australian Kim Warwick, winner of Guillermo Vilas in the previous round. This feat allowed him to pick up the biggest check of his career (50,000 $). "I would never have thought that I could win a Grand Slam," Teacher said to the New York Times. Thereafter, he only reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam twice. The train didn't pass a second time.
9/ Joachim Johansson and his 51 aces
Short but intense. Joachim Johansson only stayed in the Top 100 for two short seasons. Time to climb to the ninth place in the world in 2004, when he moved up to the semi-finals of the U.S. Open. In 2005, at the Australian Open, Pim-Pim established a new record for the number of aces made during a single game (51). A statistic that held for four years before the 55 aces of Ivo Karlovic. After a true-false retirement in 2008, the Swedish giant (6 ft. 5, 14 stones) is still on the tour where he’s currently ranked... 691st.
10/ Iva Majoli, from Roland Garros to Botox
Two years. That is, and we're barely exaggerating, the longevity Iva Majoli on the tour. From her first success in Zurich (1995) to her consecration at Roland Garros (1997), she easily defeated the best, Pierce, Sabatini, Sanchez, Novotna and other Hingis. This allowed her to logically enter the Top 10 and reach the 4th place in the world (1996). She disappeared irretrievably despite one last title in Charleston (2002). In total, her resume includes eight titles. Today Majoli is advertising the clinic Milojevic based in Zagreb, specializing in injecting ... Botox. Ironic for a woman whose name means “beautiful” in French.