Winning a grand slam is the ultimate tennis dream. Simply playing in one is an aspiration for many, since only 128 make each tournament, in a game that has more than a billion players the world over.
Of those 128, the champion is the only one who wins seven best-of-five matches over a two-week period, which requires immense physical and mental skill.
There are however many who, though being super players, have not had a breakthrough grand slam win.
Born in Brooklyn, York, in 1951, Dibbs learnt his tennis skills on the slow, clay courts of Miami.
Winning 586 matches on the ATP tour makes him number 28 on the all-time list of matches won – Jimmy Connors is at the top, with 1256. But with illustrious names like Mats Wilander, Jim Courier, Vitas Gerulaitis and Andres Gomez behind him, 586 wins is a lot more impressive.
Yet Dibbs only reached the semi-finals levels at grand slams – both at the French Open.
As the 10th seed in 1975, Dibbs lost to Guillermo Vilas, while in 1976 he lost to eventual champion Adriano Panetta – Panetta having defeated defending champion Bjorn Borg in the quarters.
Dibbs also reached the quarters of the US Open three times, won 22 titles, and was runner up 20 times.
While he only reached an all-time high of world No.5, for around five years from 1976 to 1980 he was consistently in the top ten.
Dibbs settled in Florida, where he owns racehorses. At 5’7″, he tried to be a jockey as well after his tennis days were over.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Gottfried was a junior under-18 national champion, who went on to win 25 ATP titles and reach a world ranking of three.
He also reached 26 other finals, only to be runner-up, and won 680 ATP matches to be No.15 on the list. That puts the likes of Andy Murray, Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and Bjorn Borg behind him for matches won.
However, at grand slam level, Gottfried reached only one final – the 1977 French Open. That day, Guillermo Vilas played a magical game to win 6-0, 6-3, 6-0.
Regardless, Gottfried was one of the respected opponents on the court. His work ethic was amazing, and Arthur Ashe is on record saying the only day Gottfried missed practice was the day of his marriage – so he practiced for twice as long the next day.
Ferrer is 12th on the all-time winners’ list, with 714, which is one win more than Boris Becker. The only three current players ahead of Ferrer are Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – with 1115, 854 and 783 respectively.
Born in Xabia, Spain, Ferrer is probably the best player not to win a Grand Slam. Ferrer reached his highest ranking, three, in 2013, however he reached the top five way back in 2007.
He has won 27 titles and has also reached the finals on 25 occasions.
Federer, who has a 17-0 career record against Ferrer, considers the Spaniard to have the best return of serve in history.
At the French Open in 2013, Ferrer reached the finals without losing a set, only to go down in straight sets to Rafa.
He reached the Australian Open semi-finals in 2011 – defeating Rafa in the quarters – only to lose to Murray. In 2013, he again reached the Australian Open semi-finals, only to lose to Djokovic.
At the US Open, Ferrer reached semis in 2007 and 2012. As for Wimbledon, Ferrer reached the quarters in 2012 and 2013, Murray and Juan Martín del Potro getting the better of him.
At 35, Ferrer is unlikely to win a grand slam, but he will be remembered for his tenacity, agility, fitness, and determination.