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Headbangers' Ball (The Five Most-Frustrating Players on the ATP Tour)

Over on my blog, Tennis Talk, Anyone?, I recently wrote a posting about the players who drive me up the wall sometimes with their results. In the wake of talk of that most-frustrating player of all, Marat Safin, retiring after his latest dismal loss, I thought I'd post the list here, too.

So here's the five that make me want to just bang my head against the wall when I hear their latest results. Any guesses as to who will top the list? I'm counting down to the leader, so don't look ahead! And if someone I didn't list drives you crazy, feel free to list them.

5. Andy Roddick: I'm a big A-Rod fan, but man, does he drive me crazy sometimes! I know expectations for him have been high from a lot of people, and you can't win every match, but still: Losses to Philipp Kohlschreiber and Janko Tipsarevic in Slams is nuts. I'll always root for him, but I just don't know what I'm going to get: except for a concussion one day for ramming my head into the wall one too many times! I would love for him to win Paris this week.

4. David Nalbandian: Like Roddick, he's just made the quarterfinals of the Paris Open, but you just never know what you'll get with him: One tournament he's knocking off Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in a row, the next he's losing to Jeremy Chardy. He's the defending champ in Paris and if he defends, OK; if he loses his next match, OK. I'm gonna pad the furniture just in case I feel like knocking my head against something!

3. James Blake: Let's take a look at this year, shall we? The former world number four has only made two finals in '08 and lost both of them: to Kei Nishikori in Delray Beach and Marcel Granollers in Houston. These losses might look OK in a couple of years if or when those two make it big, but for a top guy near his prime, they're pretty bad. Also, journeymen galore have made it to Slam semis, but Blake hasn't: a bad result for someone of his stature.

2. Monfils: Guys that almost win the Grand Slam in junior tennis shouldn't only have one career title playing with the big boys, but that's where Gael is. Making the finals recently in Vienna was a decent result, but losing to a 24-year-old just cracking the top 100 and playing in his first final almost negates that accomplishment.

1. Safin: Come on, who else could it have been? I don't even know where to begin. Earlier in the year, after he made a couple of quarters on clay, I thought that could kickstart a run to the top 10 before the end of the year. Then, that Wimbledon run only confirmed it for me. But I guess I should have known. Well at least he got to a final a couple of weeks ago, but I'm left with a lump on my forehead after banging it into a desk after seeing he lost! I'll learn one day!

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Comment by George Michael Provine (MIKEE) on November 6, 2009 at 8:32pm
Van: You have expressed what I have thought going back for several years. Especially about Roddick and Blake. What do they have in common that could be the cause? I think it may have to do with their strategic approaches to playing tennis. I believe they are both too predictable on the court. They both play single dimensional tennis regardless of who their opponent is. They need to vary their game according to who they are playing. I used to watch Roddick fire away with the same old super fast approach to the game---very little variety. And even though his new coaches have somewhat moderated his methods, I still think he is too predictable on the court. At the Pro level, returning serves is pretty good. I know he hits a lot of aces but I would like to see him develop a great American Twist and any other variety, including just slowing down his time between points. He rushes his game and always has.. I also believe he should serve and volley more. As for Blake, he has tons of quickness & speed but is also predictable. I wish he would hit more underspin, especially on approach shots and also get to the net more. Both these players have wonderful skills. I just want them both to win some BIG ones and fulfill their potentials. As for Safin...He never has solved his emotional approach to the game. By his own admission he has smashed around 400 rackets!! Tennis is a thinking persons game and when a player is upset inside during play it is a real drawback to playing smart.

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