Since nearly five decades, the tennis circuit has seen the eight best players of the season compete against each other in the year-ending championships. Arguably considered as the most competitive tournament on tour, the players gun for the elite trophy which is second only to the four slams. A number of players have qualified for the event on more than one occasion. A data was collected that listed the players with worst win rates having played at least ten matches at the tour finals. Here are the players who have made it to the list:
MARIN CILIC (W-L: 2-10, Win Rate: 16.67%)
In 2014, Marin Cilic won his first and only slam till date at the US Open. Cilic broke into the Top 10 and also qualified for the year-ending championships following his triumph at the Flushing Meadows. Unfortunately, after a couple of weeks before the ATP World Tour Finals, Cilic injured his right arm and was forced to withdraw from the Valencia Open and the Paris Masters. The Croatian recovered in time for the year-ending championships but had a forgetful debut that year. Cilic lost the first five sets at the O2 arena, three of which he lost by a set score of 6-1. In his third round robin match he finally won a set against Stan Wawrinka but eventually succumbed to a three-set defeat against the Swiss and ended his year ranKed No.9 in the world.
The following year, Cilic dropped out of the Top 10 rankings and failed to qualify for the World Tour Finals. He made a strong return in 2016, by winning his maiden Masters 1000 title at Cincinnati and his maiden ATP 500 title at Basel. The Croatian qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals for the second time in his career. Cilic’s failed to register a win at the O2 arena in his first two matches and hence was on a five-match losing streak at the World Tour Finals. He finally won his first match at the event against Kei Nishikori but had failed to progress to the semi-finals.
In 2017, Cilic began his season within the Top 10. At the Roland Garros, he reached the quarter-finals and became one of the few tennis players to reach the quarter-finals of each slam at least once. Cilic’s best performance came at Wimbledon where he finished as the runner-up. He qualified for the tour finals for the second consecutive year but lost all his three round robin matches in three-sets. He finished the season ranked No.6 in the world.
In 2018, Cilic had a solid start to his season, as he finished as a finalist at the Australian Open. He won the title at Queen’s and a few months later qualified for the ATP Finals. Cilic lost two of his round robin matches against Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev and won his second match at the O2 arena against John Isner in three sets. Cilic finished the season ranked No.7 in the world.
ZELJKO FRANULOVIC (W-L: 2-9, Win rate: 18.18%)
Former Davis Cup captain of Croatia, Zeljko Franulovic had a career that spanned for 12 years starting in 1969. Born and brought up in Split, Franulovic was one of the most dominant players in the early 70s. He won a total of 9 singles titles and 7 doubles titles in his career. The Croat was a runner-up at the 1970 Roland Garros where he lost to Jan Kodes. The year-ending championships were introduced in 1970 and Franulovic qualified for its first two years. Then known as the Pepsi Cola Masters, the tournament did not have any semi-finals or finals round and the winner was decided in round robin format. In the inaugural edition, six men played against each other in the round robin format. Franulovic lost four matches and got his lone victory in the tournament against Jan Kodes. The following year, seven men played against each other in the round robin format. Yet again, Franulovic was able to register only win in the entire tournament which came against Clark Graebner. Out of the nine matches he lost at the year-ending championships of the Grand Prix circuit, only three of them were lost in straight sets.
THOMAS MUSTER (W-L: 2-8, Win Rate: 20%)
In 1989, Thomas Muster fell victim to an unfortunate accident when a drunk driver struck him and severed the Austrian’s left knee ligaments. Muster was then one of the Top 20 players at that time and made his return to competitive tennis in 1990. In his comeback, Muster, who was then regarded as the King of Clay, won the Italian Open and reached the semis of the Roland Garros. Muster qualified for his maiden year-ending championships that year and was seeded seventh for the event. In the round robin stage, Muster lost to group leaders Boris Becker and Ivan Lendl in straight sets and won his lone match of the tournament against Andres Gomez in three sets. The Austrian finished the year ranked No.7 and was also presented with the Comeback Player of the Year award.
Five years later, Muster reached the prime of his career. He recorded 40 consecutive match wins on clay and won 11 tournaments on the dirt. He asserted his dominance on clay even further as he won his maiden and only slam at the Roland Garros. Muster finished the year with a stunning win-loss record of 65-2 on clay. Muster was seeded second at the year-end championships that year. However, he lost all his round robin matches that year, each of which came in three sets. Muster finished the year ranked No.3 in the world.
Muster continued to conquer the clay court tournaments as he went on to win the Monte Carlo and Italian Open titles that year. He also won a title at Stuttgart where he defeated the 1996 French Open champion, Yevgeny Kafelnikov. The Austrian topped the ranking charts for the first time in February that year. Muster qualified for the year-ending finals for the third time and was seeded fifth. He got his second match win at the tournament which came against Michael Chang. Muster lost his other two round robin matches against Goran Ivanisevic and Richard Krajicek and hence failed to reach the semi-finals of the event for the third time. Muster finished the season ranked No.5 in the world.
In 1997, Muster won his biggest hard court title of his career at the Miami Masters. He also won the title at Dubai and was a runner-up at Cincinnati. That year, Muster had a better win-rate on hard courts compared to his more favored clay courts where he won only 50% of the matches he played. He qualified for the year-ending event as an alternate and played only one match after Greg Rusedski withdrew from the event after losing his first two round robin matches. Muster faced Carlos Moya and the Spaniard thrashed the Austrian 6-2 6-3. The 1995 Roland Garros champion finished the season ranked No.9 in the world and never qualified for the event till he retired in 1999.
HAROLD SOLOMON (W-L: 4-15, Win Rate: 21.5%)
Former American tennis player Harold Solomon was a prominent player in the 1970s in both the singles and doubles circuit. Solomon won his first title at Washington D.C. on clay in 1974 and also reached the semis of Los Angeles and Bretton Woods tournaments. He was the last player to qualify for the tour finals that year. The American lost all his round robin matches in straight sets that year. Solomon finished the year ranked No.15 in the world.
The following year, in his title defense at Washington, Solomon finished as the runner-up. He won four titles that year of which two came on carpet and two on hard courts. He was also a finalist at Melbourne Indoors which was played on grass. In the year-ending championships, the American qualified as an alternate and lost his round robin matches to Guillermo Vilas and Bjorn Borg and registered his first win at he event against Raul Ramirez in three sets.
Solomon, the former President of ATP, reached 8 finals and won 5 of them in 1976. Of the three finals he lost, one came at the Roland Garros which was his best showing at a grand slam tournament. After getting two wins in the round robin stage at the year-end championships that year, Solomon made it to the semis of the event for the first time in his career. He lost to Manuel Orantes in straight sets and finished his season ranked No.8.
Despite winning titles at Cincinnati, Brussels and WCT Tournament of Champions, Solomon failed to qualify for the year ending championships in 1977. He ended the season ranked No.14. The 1978 season saw Solomon reach five finals, out of which he won two of them. In the tour finals, Solomon was a part of the all-American group and lost all his three round robin matches to compatriots John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Arthur Ashe in straight sets. Solomon finished his season breaking back into the Top 10 and sat at No.9 in the rankings.
In 1979, Solomon reached seven finals and won three titles, one of which came at Paris Indoors. He qualified for the fifth time for the year-ending tournament and registered a win-loss record of 1-2 in the round robin stage. Solomon finished yet another season within the Top 10, ranked No.8 in the world.
In 1980, Solomon won the titles at Cincinnati, Hamburg, Baltimore and Tel Aviv. The American’s consistent performances were rewarded as he broke into the Top 5 rankings and reached a career high of No.5 in the world. He qualified for the year-ending championships for the sixth time in seven years. Solomon lost all his three round robin matches in his final appearance at the year-ending championships. He ended the year ranked No.7 in the world and retired from professional tennis in 1986.
RAUL RAMIREZ (W-L: 4-12, Win Rate: 25%)
Former doubles No.1 and three-time grand slam champion Raul Ramirez qualified for the year-ending championships each year from 1974 to 1978. Ramirez won his only title in 1974 at Columbus and was a runner-up at Tehran. The Mexican won two his round robin matches at the tour finals and lost his only match against eventual runner-up Ilie Nastase before progressing to the semis. In the semis, Ramirez was up a set against Guillermo Vilas but eventually lost the match after the latter won the next three sets. Ramirez finished the year ranked No.18 in the world.
In 1975, Ramirez reached the finals of five tour level events and won four of them, three of which he won on clay. At the year-ending championships, Ramirez lost all three of his round robin matches. He improved to No.13 in the rankings at the end of the season. Apart from winning three titles on tour, 1976 saw Ramirez give his best performances at the majors. The Mexican reached the semis at Wimbledon and Roland Garros. Sadly, he lost all his round robin matches in his third consecutive appearance at the year-ending finals. Ramirez was a the prize money leader that year, reached a career high ranking of No.4 and finished the season at No.5.
Ramirez won the title at Queen’s and Los Angeles in 1977 and was a runner-up at Miami, Las Vegas and Oviedo. The Mexican reached the semis of the French Open for the second consecutive year but lost to eventual champion Guillermo Vilas. He won his only match at the year-ending finals against Roscoe Tanner but lost his other two matches to Brian Gottfried and Bjorn Borg. Ramirez ended the season within the Top 10 for a second consecutive year, ranked No.8.
In 1978, Ramirez was a finalist at eight tournaments out of which he won two of them at Monte Carlo and Mexico City. He gave his best performance at the US Open where he reached the quarter-finals but lost to eventual runner-uo Bjorn Borg. In his last appearance at the year-ending championships, the Mexican won his round robin match against Corrado Barazzutti but lost the other two against Brian Gottfried and Eddie Dibbs. Ramirez finished the season ranked No.8 and retired from professional tennis in 1983.
ROSCOE TANNER ( W-L: 3-9, Win Rate: 25%)
Four years after turning pro, Roscoe Tanner broke into the Top 10 of the ATP rankings in 1975. In 1976, the American won tour level titles on all four surfaces (hard, clay, grass, carpet). He reached nine finals that year, winning five of them. He qualified for the tour finals that year where he defeated eventual runner-up Wojtek Fibak but lost his other two round robin matches against Eddie Dibbs and eventual champion Manuel Orantes. Tanner ended the season ranked No.11.
Tanner began the 1977 season on a high, winning his only slam at the Australian Open which was played on grass at that time. He won his second and last title of the season at Australia as well by winning the Sydney Open that was played on grass. The American qualified for the year-ending championships for the second consecutive year. Tanner lost all three matches in the round robin stage that year. An unsuccessful run in defending any of his five titles that he won in 1976, coupled with a winless trip at the year-ending championships led to Tanner drop three spots below to No.14 in the world.
Tanner dropped out of the Top 20 at the end of the 1978 season but returned strongly in 1979, which was his second best season at the slams ever since winning the Australian Open. He reached the finals of Wimbledon where he lost to Bjorn Borg in four sets. A couple of months later he made it to the final four stage at the US Open but lost to compatriot Vitas Gerulaitis despite having a 2-0 lead. Tanner yet again failed to proceed beyond the round robin stage at the year-ending championships in his third appearance. He won his only match against Jose Higueras but lost to Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors. However, it was a positive season for the American as he reached a career high ranking of No.4 and ended the season ranked No.5.
1980 was Tanner’s worst season since turning pro as he reached only one final in the entire season which was at Richmond. Tanner lost to John McEnroe in the finals where the former was able to win only three games in the entire match. Tanner dropped out of the Top 10 and finished the season ranked No.13. In 1981, Tanner’s best performances were reaching the finals of Memphis(carpet), Bristol(grass) and Sydney Indoors(hard). At the tour finals then known as the Volvo Masters, Tanner was a part of an all-American group in the round robin stage featuring John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors and Eliot Teltscher alongside him. Tanner won his last match at the year-ending tournament against Jimmy Connors but lost his other two round robin matches. Tanner finished the season ranked No.12 and never finished within the Top 20 since then till he retired in 1985.
JAN KODES (W-L: 5-12, Win-rate: 29.4%)
Jan Kodes was one of the leading players at the start of the Open Era in 1968. In 1970, the Czech won the French Open title and finished as the runner-up at Rome. The year-ending championships in 1970 & 1971 saw players compete each other in round robin format and there was no provision for the semi-finals or finals round. The player with most wins in the round robin matches was declared the champion. Kodes made it to the year-ending tournament in 1970 as an alternate. Six men qualified for the event and Kodes lost all five of his round robin matches in the inaugural tour finals. Kodes was ranked No.8 at the end of the season by the Grand Prix circuit of the International Lawn Tennis Federation.
The following year saw Kodes defend his French Open title successfully. The Czech also finished as the runner-up at the US Open which was then played on grass. He qualified for the tour finals for the second consecutive year and won three of his six round robin matches and finished fourth in the final standings. Kodes finished the season at a career high ranking of No.5. In 1972, Kodes won the title at Barcelona and was a runner-up at Nice and Rome. He qualified for the year-ending championships for the third straight year. The round robin format that we know today wherein players are divided into two groups and have to compete against each other to make it to the semis was introduced in 1972. Kodes finished 1-2 in the round robin stage and hence failed to make it to the semis.
In 1973, Kodes gave his best performance at Wimbledon and the US Open. At Wimbledon, 13 of the top 16 players boycotted the event due to the ban imposed by the ILTF on Nikola Pilic. Kodes was seeded second for the event and he went on to win his third and final slam of his career. At the US Open, Kodes finished as the runner-up, losing to John Newcombe in five sets. The year-ending championships saw Kodes win his group match against Tom Gorman but lost his other two matches against Ilie Nastase and John Newcombe. Based on the newly introduced computer based rankings, Kodes finished the season ranked No.11 in the world. He retired from professional tennis in 1983.