Most Surprising Last Slams In Hindsight?

Most surprising last slam title by a player looking back?

  • Kuerten's 2001 French Open at 24

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Bruegera's 1994 French Open at 23

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • del Potro's 2009 USO at age 20

    Votes: 8 18.6%
  • Safin's 2005 AO at age 25

    Votes: 2 4.7%
  • Chang's 1989 French at age 17

    Votes: 17 39.5%
  • Borg's 1981 French at age 25

    Votes: 14 32.6%
  • Courier's 93 AO at age 22

    Votes: 2 4.7%

  • Total voters
By any player you wish, although the poll was considered for most popular choices with an Other option.

Me personally, I think had Novak not come back his 2016 French would have been my #1. No way did I think it would be his last.

Gustavo Kuerten's 2001 French
Kuerten was not even 25 when he won his 3rd Slam in 5 years and as repeat champion. He ended the year #2 after being #1 and was also getting better on hard courts winning Cincinnati and making his 2nd USO quarter. To think injuries would do him in and he'd only make one more French quarter 3 years later was nothing short of hater logic. He should have been competing in that 02-05 sphere beating Federer in straights at that 04 French.

Sergi Bruegera's 1994 French
Even more than Kuerten on clay, Bruegera had won back to back French titles at age 23 with the first coming against Jim Courier. He then lost the following year to Chang and unseeded in 96 to Sampras of all people in the 2nd round. He would make it back to the final in 97 losing to Kuerten and then never with injuries criplling him down to rank 132 the following year.

Juan Martin del Potro's 2009 US Open
Although Fed should have put him away, del Potro ascent at age 20 should have broken the would be Big 4 that came in the wake of his wrist injuries. He has yet to capture another Slam but the outlook seems somewhat promising with his comeback to a Final this past year.

Marat Safin's 2005 Australian Open
As a 20 year old prodigy he demolished Sampras to win his first Slam. Then he lost the 2002 Aussie Open amid rumors of partying. He came back 2 years later and was throttled by Federer who captured his 2nd title. Much was made of his supposed disinterest in the later stages but he came back with a vengeance in 2005 to the tune of legend status in beating Federer and decimating Hewitt for his 2nd Slam. He was a worthy rival to Federer but repeated injuries and inconsistent play stopped him with his last comeback at the 2008 Wimbledon ending in a loss to Federer he mailed in before the match.

Michael Chang's 1989 French
Any time a 17 year old wins a Slam, you know people will expect more. As with Becker and Borg, Chang would indeed become a fixture, but never again capturing a title. Three additional finals and a 1992 USO semifinal epic with eventual champ Edberg was all she wrote. Along with all those Masters titles.

Bjorn Borg 1981 French
Borg was an early bloomer for sure and you could argue the writing was on the wall with McEnroe's entrance but he made all 3 Slam Finals for the 2nd straight year and was still very much in command on clay. Although he officially retired after 1982 amid new ATP regulations, it'll always be a shock to historians with so much still left on the table.

Jim Courier 1993 Australian Open
Although the emergence of Sampras and Agassi was undeniable, it was Courier who made 3 consecutive Slam Finals in 1993 losing Wimbledon in 4 tight sets to Sampras and the French to Bruegera in 5. He had also lost the 91 USO final to Edberg and the 92 semifinal to Sampras. To end 1993 however, Courier began to struggle as opponents began to feed into his backhand. He downgraded in Canada, Cincinnati and the USO but would start the 1994 campaign losing in Semifinals to Sampras and Bruegera again. Although some could see his decline and rivals greatness, to think the former #1 at age 23 was done winning Slams would have been odd to say the least.

HM: Pat Cash, although his 87 Wimbledon run was impressive and he lost in a thriller at the 88 Aussie I don't think it was an absolute shock he didn't do more given his competition.
HM: Michael Stich, like Cash had a great Wimbledon run but finished the following season ranked 15th and by that time the field was very crowded with established top players Agassi, Sampras and Courier in full swing.
I voted for Del Potro. He won a Grand Slam defeating both Nadal and Federer at age 20. Doesn't win anymore.

You didn't need to be Nostradamus to see that Borg wouldn't win anymore GS, since he retired at age 26.
I voted for Del Potro. He won a Grand Slam defeating both Nadal and Federer at age 20. Doesn't win anymore.

You didn't need to be Nostradamus to see that Borg wouldn't win anymore GS, since he retired at age 26.
No one knew Borg would retire within a year, after he won the FO in 1981 though.


Hall of Fame
Del Potro 2009. The guy was 20 at the time, had just dismantled Nadal in the SF and beaten Fed in the final. The future looked so bright for the big man, still tremendous upside/potential to improve his game given his young age, it was hard to think that we would be talking almost 10 years later and the only other big title he'd win would be an MS-1000 which only came this year. I hate going into "whatif" mode and all, but had Del Potro career not been impacted by all those wrist injuries, the tour would've been drastically different between 2009 and now. I'm not saying Del Potro would've rewritten the history book, but he'd have more than 1 slam and I'm certain he would've costed the "top 4" a few slams as well.


Hall of Fame
Even in hindsight, Federer's 2017 Australian Open win is one of the most surprising. It happened during the LostGen era, but still no one saw it happening: doubts of post-surgery/long absent Federer, doubts of his ability to survive 5-set matches, doubts of his chances against nemesis Nadal in the final...and truly serious doubts once down in the 5th set.

Deleted member 742196

No Mats Wilander?

He was 24 when he won 3 Slams in 1988, and then dropped off a cliff
Mats always gets left out of conversations. In my view he had one of the highest peaks and yeah never won Wimbledon, but AO was grass at the time.

Just another Swede that happened to excel on all surfaces. Mats and Nadal are the only players to win multiple slams on all of them excepting he did it before poly revolution/homogenization so, in fact, Mats can be said to have been the most accomplished diverse player in the modern era.

Except for the part nobody talks about him.
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Went for Safin, the others not at the same level and 25 approaching the best years that are typical for players. Chang I thought had limitations against the top players of the day, though I loved his heart, watching him against Becker in an Aussie final once was like a boy vs a man.
Definitely either Borg or Mac.
I voted for Borg, but agree that McEnroe should be on the list. I'd put Wilander up there too. All three were established stars who had won many Slams, so it must be more surprising than one or two time winners like Bruguera and Chang, regardless of age.
Nadal RG 2021 - the day the King of Clay becomes the King of tennis. Rafa wins his 13th RG title and 21st slam and retires as the GOAT during the trophy presentation.
Going through this list, including Wilander, Hewitt, Roddick, it's really fascinating how many stars shoot to the top but then just can't keep it and crash and burn. Only a very select few had a long career, and it's basically just the big 3 plus Sampras and Agassi. Maybe Connors too?
I'm not saying Del Potro would've rewritten the history book, but he'd have more than 1 slam and I'm certain he would've costed the "top 4" a few slams as well.
I always maintain him and Soderling would have dismantled Big 3 stranglehold. At worst Soderling has a couple Slams and Potro a few.

Now I realize I forgot to put in Other option. I will say reason for no Wilander and McEnroe is they had 7 Slams with young peaks. I also think surface with Bruegera and Chang coming into play and yes age.

I myself voted Courier. His concentration of success and making final at all Slams within 2 years is the most underrated accomplishment in OE. Agassi took 5 years by comparison.