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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
No Fluke

When Thomas Johansson won his Australian Open title this year, the reaction seems to be that it was a fluke.

Men Who Won Their Only Career Slam Since 1992

Player: Albert Costa
Slam Won: Roland Garros 2002
Status: Fluke
Comment: At just-about-27, had never been past a Slam quarterfinal when he won his big one.

Player: Thomas Johansson
Slam Won: Australian Open 2002
Status: Fluke
Comment: Won his Slam two months before turning 27, and to that time had only six career titles.

Player: Goran Ivanisevic
Slam Won: Wimbledon 2001
Status: Not a fluke
Comment: It was a surprise when it came, but he did have 21 titles already.

Player: Marat Safin
Slam Won: U. S. Open 2000
Status: Not a fluke
Comment: Everyone "knows" he had the skills. The question is, when will he win another?

Player: Carlos Moya
Slam Won: Roland Garros 1998
Status: Marginal, but probably not a fluke
Comment: A pretty good player when healthy, as he's shown this year. He just isn't healthy often enough.

Player: Petr Korda
Slam Won: Australian Open 1998
Status: Fluke
Comment: This was the last title of a fairly long career

Player: Richard Krajicek
Slam Won: Wimbledon 1996
Status: Probably not a fluke
Comment: Seventeen career titles despite constant injuries; quarterfinals at all four Slams and semifinals at all but the USO.

Player: Thomas Muster
Slam Won: Roland Garros 1995
Status: Not a fluke
Comment: The guy won 44 titles despite what should have been a career-ending injury.

Now we have something to work with: Three flukes (Johansson, Costa, Korda), two perhaps marginals (Krajicek, Moya), and three definite non-flukes (Ivanisevic, Moya, Safin).

Let's stack up some statistics for these guys and see what we find.

Statistic: Total career titles
44: Muster
22: Ivanisevic
17: Krajicek
12: Costa
11: Moya
10: Korda
10: Safin
7: Johansson

Obviously this doesn't tell us much. Safin has fewer titles than Costa, but is considered less of a fluke. Why? Age.

So let's try a twist: Years between the player's first title and his first Slam.

Statistic: Years Between First Title and First Slam
1: Safin
3: Moya
5: Johansson
5: Krajicek
7: Costa
7: Korda
9: Muster
11: Ivanisevic

That doesn't tell us anything either. How about this?

Statistic: Titles at the time of first Slam
4: Moya
4: Safin
6: Johansson
9: Korda
9: Krajicek
11: Costa
21: Ivanisevic
28: Muster

The problem with this, of course, is that some of these guys won their Slams early, others late. Maybe a better test is to take an arbitrary period early in their careers. Say, the four years from the time each man won his first title.

Statistic: Titles in four years after first title (inclusive)
10: Safin
9: Ivanisevic
8: Costa
7: Krajicek
6: Korda
5: Moya
5: Muster
4: Johansson

This is getting rather frustrating, isn't it? (At least for us, since we're having to look this stuff up. Maybe not for you.)

So let's try a different approach....

Statistic: Number of surfaces on which has won titles
4 (Clay, Grass, Hard, Indoor): Ivanisevic
4 (Clay, Grass, Hard, Indoor): Krajicek
3 (Clay, Hard, Indoor): Korda
3 (Clay, Hard, Indoor): Muster
3 (Clay, Hard, Indoor): Safin
3 (Grass, Hard, Indoor): Johansson
2 (Clay, Hard): Moya
1 (Clay): Costa

This isn't a great help, either.

Frankly, we're stumped. It's pretty obvious that some players are flukes, and others aren't -- but it's going to take a lot more than one statistic to determine which is which. Career titles would probably do it -- but it's awfully early to be counting Safin's, or even Moya's.

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27,997 Posts
Even if Moya doesn't win another slam, I don't think he will qualify as a "fluke". He was the best player in the world at some point, albeit for a week or two, but that counts for something. He was also out injured and coming back for a good few years, so that should be considered. Furthermore here he is 4 years after that slam, contending on clay and hardcourts.

Safin is not a fluke. Safin is a MASSIVE underachiever.

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420 Posts
Out of those 8 "One Slam wonders" , and with the exception of Safin and Moya from whom we still expect more titles to come, who do you believe has future Tennis Hall of Fame potential? We can add Andres Gomez and Pat Cash to that list too...

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3,581 Posts

44 career titles, no piece of cake. Even if it's all on clay, it's something. But it's not only clay, but on all surfaces, well, except grass. And he overcame that car accident which completed shattered his leg. If that didn't happen, he would probably won Key Biscayne that year and more titles under his belt. He came back from that serious injury, took RG and got all the way up to No. 1, briefly.

He's no doubt a hall of famer, at least in my mind.

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759 Posts
Johansson and Korda are definitely flukes.
I think Costa is more of a late bloomer when it comes to the majors. I'm not sure he'll win another Slam, but he could get to a couple more semis.

I agree with Rebecca, Safin is underachieving big-time. Hopefully his U.S. Open loss to Guga will be a wake-up call, and he can again start playing like he did in 2000.

The others are definitely not flukes. Moya could very well win another Slam, either on hard or clay.

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68 Posts
Johansson was the only true surprise to me. Costa's win probably appears to be a fluke, but it really didn't surprise me. At the French, you have to think that some enterprising clay courter is going to walk away with the title these years, and this year's French was one of the widest open tournaments in years. I thought any of a dozen players, including Costa, had a chance. I've always thought Costa was just not living up to his talent on clay, so it was nice to see him win. Moya's win was more of a surprise to me, although by the time the final came around, I fully expected him to beat Corretja. Korda was and wasn't a shock. He was playing well at the time, the draw was riddled with upsets and I remember thinking early on that Korda had a chance to win the whole thing, which was a shock. Safin certainly should win a few more Grand Slams, but he could also be the next Kafelnikov, who probably should have won more than two Grand Slams.
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