Coming so close to the top of the mountain and stumbling can be a brutally cruel experience for athletes, but doing it multiple times must test the resolve of anyone.
Popular Tunisian Ons Jabeur has been on the cusp of history over the last two years, with the 28-year-old coming painfully close to winning the first grand slam title of her career and the first for her nation.
Jabeur has lost three major finals in the last 15 months, with defeats at Wimbledon 2022 (to Rybakina), the US Open 2022 (to Swiatek) and Wimbledon 2023 (to Vondrousova).
However she doesn’t need to look far to find a number of stars who have reached the summit after coming so close.
Kim Clijsters lost four grand slam finals between 2001 and 2004 before breaking through for the first time at the 2005 US Open.
She would win the next four grand slam finals she would appear in, only dropping one set in those four victories.
Andy Murray was another who lost the first four major finals of his career, and in an era of the big three, he was still able to push through and win Wimbledon twice as well as the US Open, defeating Novak Djokovic twice in a slam final.
Jabeur took time away post Wimbledon, and delayed her return by withdrawing from Montreal as she looked to spend more time with her family, and she admitted she was still feeling the effects of that defeat.
"I had to take a few days -- a lot of days off -- to recover and still, it was not enough," Jabeur said in Cincinnati last week
"I wasn't feeling ready to play Montreal because that loss was kind of tough for me. So I tried to stay home, be with my family.
"I tried to reflect a bit on the final, but for now, I've got to be honest, it's still tough to think about it again."
Jabeur says she was overwhelmed by the positive support she received from around the world after her Wimbledon loss. But one message really struck a chord.
America’s Andy Roddick could no doubt feel her pain. He lost three Wimbledon finals to Roger Federer. Roddick was one player who reached out to Jabeur in the days following her defeat.
"I have more faith in you winning Wimbledon than I ever had in myself winning Wimbledon," Roddick says he wrote. "Take a breath, take a minute, make sure you prepare, keep your fitness going.
"She's someone I really hope wins a Grand Slam title at some point."
Jabeur was shocked to receive a note from someone she had always admired.
"I was crying, happy crying," she said. "I appreciate that he took the time to write a good long message. I'm definitely talking to him when I see him probably at the US Open."
Murray’s maiden Wimbledon crown in 2013 came 12 months after he’d lost the final to Roger Federer. In the week’s that followed that defeat he said “When you lose, it’s hard. It’s tough to take,” Murray said. “But you need to try and show strength of character to come back from it. Hopefully one day, you get there.”
Of course, history is also littered with super talents who never quite got that ultimate fulfillment, such as two-time grand slam finalist Elena Dementieva, and stars like Pam Shriver, Henri Leconte, Marcelo Rios, David Nalbandian and Jo Wilfred-Tsonga to name just a few.
However, for Jabeur, the numbers are promising for a breakthrough victory. She holds a 7-9 record overall against the current “big 3” of Swiatek, Sabalenka and Rybakina, and only Swiatek has won more matches in the past two years.
Jabeur is also the only other player to reach three grand slam finals over the past two years outside of the dominant Swiatek.
Five of the last eight US Open champions were first time major winners on the women’s side (and the last three men), so this event consistently proves to be the breakout slam.
Just like it was for Clijsters, Roddick and Murray all those years ago!