Just over a year ago, Marin Cilic won his first Grand Slam title at the 2014 US Open.
With that victory, Cilic had joined an exclusive club. That club consists of those players who not only have won one grand slam title during their careers, but they have also only appeared in only one grand slam final.
They are that rare breed of player that has never tasted defeat in a grand slam final and when their one chance came they seized the moment with both hands.
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Of course, it goes without saying that the legends of tennis, who have won multiple majors will happily accept a few final defeats in order to have reached their overall haul of slam wins and whilst it remains to be seen if Cilic will reach another slam final, yet alone add another slam to his collection, we take a nostalgic look back at five of those players whose star shone brightly, if only once, on tennis's greatest stages. How many have you heard of?
Juan Martin Del Potro
Del Potro reached his one Slam final to date at the US Open in 2009. In that final he faced the five time and defending US Open Champion, Roger Federer. Not many would have bet against Federer making it six but Del Potro stood firm against an early onslaught and fire back with some of the fiercest ball striking ever seen.
Coming through in a classic five set victory, Del Potro claimed his first and to date, only slam win. In fairness, injury has cursed Del Potro and it would of been more than likely that he would of gone on to win more.
The year before Nadal began his reign as the King of clay, the 2004 French Open Final was contested by two Argentines.
The clear favourite was Guillermo Coria and after two sets he had seemingly cruised his compatriot in taking them by 6-0, 6-3. Gaudio looked dead and buried when at 4-4 in the third set and 40-0 down, he launched one of the greatest comebacks in Grand Slam final history. Coria succumbed to cramping and Gaudio won the next two sets comfortably which set up a tense final set.
Coria should have won, but after holding numerous breaks of serve, Coria faltered and Gaudio claimed the set 8-6. Gaudio, never reached another slam final, but no one that witnessed this final, will ever forget it.
2002 was a funny old year in that we had two one-time slam final/winners. The first was the Swede, Thomas Johansson. In the final of the Australian Open he faced Marat Safin who was heavily backed to win. Johansson won in four tight sets.
It was one of those wins that was so surprising that everybody seemed shocked. Maybe it was because it was the beginning of the year and to many, the Australian Open at that time, was seen as the "fourth" slam.
Either way, it’s in the record books and ask any player that ever picked up a racket and most would of loved to of been in Johansson's shoes as he lifted the trophy.
The second of our players to join the club in 2002 was the clay court specialist Albert Costa. As you might imagine, it was at the French Open final where he defeated Juan Carlos Ferrero in four sets.
The first two sets were one sided with Costa dominating 6-0, 6-1. The favourite, Ferrero, launched a comeback and took the third set 6-4. However, Costa remained steadfast and in winning the fourth set by 6-3, took his maiden slam.
A classic clay courter, Costa never became a household name outside Spain and France but do you really think he cared?
Welcome to Wimbledon 1996 and the court of King Sampras. Krajicek had a massive serve but Sampras was almost unplayable on grass.
Fortunate to get a seeding after Thomas Muster had pulled out, Krajicek made his way to the Quarter finals after an impressive win against former champion Michael Stich. Hindsight will tell us that Sampras should have been aware of the threat that Krajicek posed but he was ambushed and Krajicek won in three straight sets.
It was a strange Wimbledon and in the final he met another shock finalist in Malavai Washington. In a forgetful final, Krajicek won comfortably without dropping a set and he will mainly be remembered as the guy who Sampras lost to in 1996. I’m sure Krajicek remembers it rather differently.
So there you have five great players and all undefeated in Grand Slam finals. They may not be the most loved or exalted of all the champions, but look at the record books and they are all 1-0 in Grand Slam finals and will forever be called a Grand Slam champion!
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