The ATP made history in Montreal last week, as the top-seeded players at the Rogers Cup Masters—the top eight ranked players in the world—all progressed through to the quarterfinals of an ATP Masters event.
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.
An impenetrable line of sheer tennis talent, skill, tenacity, and endurance.
At least for this week.
There many long-term events which, on this one occasion, created the ripe set of circumstances for this feat.
Not long ago it seemed like there was a melting pot of nightmares, injury, tiredness, timeouts and disappointment at the top of the men’s game.
But in Montreal, the tennis stars aligned.
Rafael Nadal’s knees recovered sufficiently from tendinitis and allowed him to attend the tournament. At the same time, Federer’s twin girls, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, were delivered early enough for him to make something of a surprise entry at the top of the draw.
How times can be so different. Would we have been complaining about the lengthy tennis season and a lack of competition on the men’s side of the game if two of the current tennis greats were not in the Masters 1000 field?
During the tournament, Andy Roddick came back in a decisive third-set tiebreaker to secure a victory. Jo Wilfried Tsonga benefited from Gilles Simon’s continuing slump, passing through the all-French third round encounter to the top-eight row in the quarterfinals.
Arguably, even the tournament itself—a Masters 1000 event, the rung beneath Grand Slams in terms of prestige—played a role in this unique event by providing a first round bye to the top eight players.
Andy Murray, however, rose to the top of the top eight by beating Juan Martin Del Potro in three closely-fought sets in the final. With a 50-7 record in 2009 at the end of this tournament and a No. 2 ranking to boot, it seems Murray’s hardcourt hegemony is a definite incentive for the rest of the field to equal.
And it makes Murray a certain target for future important matches.
Nevertheless, if we continue to see such a display from the top players in the world, one will be hard-pressed to remember a time when there was such a high level of talent in the game.
The newcomers are maturing, solidifying their games and rightful place at the peak. The veterans are maintaining their consistently high levels of play like never before, tweaking and modifying their skills to keep the young guns at bay. The injury-prone push their weary bodies harder and harder. A constant battle, a never-ending fight, all to stay at the top.
The fallout, perhaps, will be this week’s tournament in Cincinnati. Another Masters 1000 event, the gruelling back-to-back North American hardcourt tournaments certainly prove a tough test for even the fittest of men.
Andy Roddick has been the first (and arguably, being the home grown player, one of the most important) dropouts, falling to Sam Querrey in the second round. Will there be more upsets to follow, or will the likes of Murray, Federer and Nadal reign supreme?
The upshot for us? Tennis fans have never had it so good.
(Published on Bleacher Report; August 20th, 2009)