With Andy Murray announcing his plans to retire at Wimbledon this summer, it got me thinking: Just how many things have we surprisingly never had occur in tennis over the past ten or so years.
There’s so many to name but here’s a list of perhaps the strangest ones, most which are sadly likely to never happen. Let’s start with a few from the man of the moment, Andy Murray:
No Murray vs Nadal Grand Slam Final
In his impressive career Andy Murray has made 11 Grand Slam finals, 10 of them against Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic. Since 2008, his biggest rivals have been those two and Rafael Nadal, but for some strange reason the Spaniard and himself have never played one another in a Grand Slam final.
In Grand Slams combined they have 20 titles and 15 runners-up. Add that to the fact they’ve played two Roland Garros semifinals, two Wimbledon semifinals and you guessed it, two US Open semifinals, you’re left wondering how it’s never happened in a final. Even if the luck of the draw put them in the same half more often than not, there were still times where it was extremely close to happening.
At the Australian Open in 2012 with Rafael Nadal was already waiting in the final, Andy Murray had several break points against Novak Djokovic in the semifinal to serve for the match. Instead the Serb held serve and broke Murray the very next game to win 7-5 in the fifth.
The most recent chance was Roland Garros 2017, likely to be Murray’s last Grand Slam semifinal. Leading two sets to one and in a fourth set tiebreak, the three-time Grand Slam champion was at times just a few points away from making his second consecutive Roland Garros final and first against Rafael Nadal before ultimately losing.
Unfortunately, it looks pretty certain this will never happen. Rafael Nadal making another Slam final is a fair bet, but right now given the two-time Olympic Gold Medalist’s level and constant pain he is in, just making the second week of his last few Slams would be a good achievement.
No Murray vs Federer on clay
They’ve played an incredible 25 times with 22 being on hard courts, three on grass, and an astonishing zero on clay.
Despite Roger Federer’s Roland Garros title, no one will be remembering him or Murray as a clay court titan. Regardless of that, though, they still have impressive enough records to make you think the matchup should have at least occurred once or twice on the red surface.
Andy Murray has made a Roland Garros final, two semifinals, as well as Masters titles in Madrid and Rome. Alongside Federer’s Roland Garros title, he also has four runner-up plates and six Masters 1000 titles on the surface. That’s safe to say they’re both in the top five clay-courters of the last decade.
For the most part, them never meeting is due to when they were great on the surface. The Swiss man was during the second half of the last decade when Murray was struggling for a foothold on the surface. Meanwhile, in the Brit’s case when he did find traction it was only after Federer was struggling vs almost everyone on the surface.
Safe to say either Federer or Murray won’t play on the clay this year. The last event Murray played on the clay was in June 2017 with Federer’s being May 2016. This matchup will never be seen on the dirt, that’s for sure.
No Federer vs Ferrer at a Grand Slam
They’ve played 17 times, starting all the way back in 2003 to their most recent encounter in 2017. These matches started off with mostly early rounds of smaller events but eventually got bigger and bigger as the two climbed up the ranks. So much that the two found themselves competing in a Masters final in Cincinnati and even a Tour Finals final, back when the event was in Shanghai.
Logically, if two players are competing in finals that big you wouldn’t hesitate to ever think they wouldn’t play in a Grand Slam semifinal or at least quarterfinal, especially since for most of 2008-2014 both of them found themselves firmly in the world’s top eight.
In addition to this, the Spaniard has 11 Grand Slam quarterfinals, five semifinals, and a Roland Garros final to the Swiss’ 20 Grand Slams, 10 runners-up and so on. With these huge numbers you would have thought they would have crossed paths many times over their long careers in the pinnacle events. Somehow, it’s just never happened.
David Ferrer played his last Grand Slam in September last year. Not participating in this year’s Australian Open and retiring for good in Madrid before the next Grand Slam makes this something we’ll never see.
No Djokovic vs Federer Australian Open Final
Sure, these two have also never played a Roland Garros final, but that’s no surprise given how Rafael Nadal has dominated the clay courts in Paris and seemingly always taken one of the two spots. Either way, in Australia both the 31-year old and 37-year old share the record for most Australian Open titles at six.
Despite the 12 wins between them, they’ve never played a final. This is even stranger because three of the Serb’s six titles have come beating Federer in the semifinals. It’s a fair bet that if the two were in opposite halves for some of those three events, we would have already had a final between them down under.
Unlike a Murray and Nadal Slam final, which will probably never happen now, there’s still a decent chance this could happen. Right now being drawn in opposite halves for this year’s event, both are favourites to make the final. Maybe the wait will finally be worth it with both men contending for a record seventh title come the second Sunday.
No Nadal vs Federer at the US Open
Saving by far the biggest thing to never happen in tennis last, it’s the two men with the most Grand Slams never competing at one of the biggest events.
37 Slams between them and eight US Open titles, and not once have they played in New York. It’s just crazy to think, especially because they’ve come close so many times, more than anything else on this list.
In 2008 and 2009 the Spaniard lost in the semifinals with the Swiss waiting in the final. In 2010 and 2011 it was the opposite way around, with Federer having match points in both semifinals to play Nadal in the final. In 2013 it was a potential quarterfinal, but Federer ended up losing the round before to Tommy Robredo, a man he led the H2H 10-0 with going into the encounter and only dropping three sets in all of them. Then most recently in 2017, the 20-time Grand Slam champion failed to convert big chances against Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinals stopping the blockbuster match from happening once again.
It’s simply absurd how year after year the matchup has been so close to happening but never actually has. With both being likely to be top four seeds this year at the event the only possibility of meeting is a semifinal or final. That would require Federer to at least make his first semifinal in New York in three years. Maybe it’s destined to never happen.