Two different friends and Sports Illustrated raised the question of who the International Tennis Hall of Fame will enshrine aside from the Big 5 on the men’s side. Consider that Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic have won 46 majors since July 2003. That amounts to 11.5 years worth of major crowns being claimed by 3 men. If Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka’s 3 majors each are added, 13 full years of majors have been won by 5 men. Who exactly can the International Tennis Hall of Fame enshrine from these years aside from the Big 5?
Serena Williams has won 4 more singles majors than Roger Federer, but if Justine Henin and Venus Williams singles hauls are added, the total comes out to 37 singles majors or 9.25 years worth of majors. Serena also won the first major of that group in September 1999. This all adds up to far more possible hall of fame candidates coming from the women’s tour than the men’s tour in the coming years.
Doubles to the Rescue?
Daniel Nestor, Leander Paes, the Bryan Brothers, Jonas Bjorkman, and Max Mirnyi could all be enshrined. I think the best way to proceed would be to package a group of outstanding doubles players as a special doubles centric year of inductees. That would fill one year of inductees, but is hardly a solution to the lack of inductees.
Coaching Puts Ivanisevic & Moya In?
Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon 2001 and was runner-up there on 3 other occassions. He reached the #2 ranking and won 2 bronze medals in 1992. As of now, he is not in the Hall of Fame, but coaching Marin Cilic during his 2014 US Open title run might add enough heft to put him over the top. Michael Chang reached the Hall of Fame with 1 major, 3 major runner-up finishes, and a #2 ranking. Goran was not as consistent as Chang over the years, but a coaching feather may do the trick.
Carlos Moya briefly held the #1 ranking, won Roland Garros in 1998, was runner-up at the 1997 Australian Open, and picked up Super 9/Masters Series/Masters 1000 titles in Rome, Monte Carlo, and Cincinnati. That too has not been enough to be enshrined, but Moya has been Rafael Nadal’s coach in 2017. Rafa’s recent Roland Garros title and Australian Open runner-up finish might also give Moya a coaching feather to put him over the top.
Both Ivanisevic and Moya were well liked, and that doesn’t hurt their chances.
Juan Carlos Ferrero?
If Ferrero had won this match, he’d be in the Hall of Fame and Roddick would not
Andy Roddick is being enshrined in 2017. JCF did not accomplish as much as Andy Roddick, but the result of their 2003 US Open championship match currently places Roddick in the Hall of Fame and JCF on the outside. Juan Carlos Ferrero won the 2003 French Open, was runner-up at Roland Garros in 2002 and at the US Open in 2003. Ferrero briefly held the #1 ranking before health issues derailed his career. Ferrero’s pursuit of Guga for clay court supremacy and eventual ascendency to #1 on clay and everywhere else was excellent as well as all too brief.
Rehabilitate the Sampras-Agassi Generation?
Michael Stich, Sergi Bruguera, and Thomas Muster could all have their cases reviewed. Pete Sampras’ excellence did not leave a lot of room for his peers. Still, the accomplishments of his peers look pretty solid compared to the peers of the Big 3 and Big 5. I already mentioned Goran’s coaching adding to his chances, but consider the following:
- Michael Stich won Wimbledon 1991, a Wimbledon doubles title and olympic gold in doubles in 1992, won the World Tour Finals in 1993, reached #2 in the world, was runner-up at the 1994 US Open and 1996 French Open. He could be enshrined.
- Sergi Bruguera won Roland Garros in 1993 and 1994. He won a silver medal in singles in 1996 and was French Open runner-up in 1997.
- Thomas Muster won the 1995 Roland Garros title, won 8 Super 9/Masters Series/Masters 1000 titles, and attained the #1 ranking. He posted impressive clay court winning streaks and overcame a nasty freak injury.
Juan Martin del Potro’s Medal(s)
JMDP won the 2009 US Open. Had his wrist held up, he’d likely have won more singles majors. Still, he won a bronze medal in singles in 2012 and a silver medal in singles in 2016. He led Argentina to a Davis Cup title in 2016. Are projections from what might have been plus good results in international competition enough to put JMDP in the hall of fame? Maybe. Being well liked is not always enough, but it cannot hurt.
Add a Lot of Coaches?
Do less decorated former players who became successful coaches get a look? Could Brad Gilbert, Darren Cahill, Magnus Norman, Ivan Ljubicic, and others be packaged in a special coaches year of inductees? I am leery of this. Uncle Toni Nadal can be argued to be the John Wooden of clay court coaching. Would Uncle Toni get inducted? Roger Federer had no coach in 2004 when he won 3 majors. I am not sure where this precedent would lead.
Finally, Solve the Y2K Problem
A number of single slam winners are in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Andy Roddick will soon add to their numbers. Yevgeny Kafelnikov has 2 singles majors. He attained the #1 ranking and also won a gold medal in singles. Beyond that YK, won 4 majors in doubles and was runner-up in one singles major as well as one doubles major. His non enshrinement raises questions about whether voters know more than can be proved in terms of innuendos about match-fixing. If his exclusion is solely a matter of his being difficult in press conferences and over playing, it seems like spite is not an acceptable reason to keep him out of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.