National Bank Open | the first will be the last

(Toronto) Heads of cheer at the National Bank Open in Toronto. The tournament progresses and the names of more and more best participants disappear from the main draw. A growing phenomenon, proving that men’s tennis is undoubtedly more competitive than ever.

Only three of the top eight seeds reached the quarterfinals in Toronto this year. Carlos Alcaraz (1), Daniil Medvedev (2) and Jannik Sinner (7) are the only players to survive Friday.

On Wednesday, Stefanos Tsitsipas (4), Andrey Rublev (6) and Holger Roon (5) were dismissed one after the other.

Photo Mark Blink, The Canadian Press

holger rune

The trend of the best players leaving earlier than expected has been observed in most of the Masters 1000-category tournaments since the start of the season.

In Indian Wells, only four of the eight players in the quarterfinals were among the top eight seeded players. In Miami, it was two. like Madrid.

The only exceptions are Monte Carlo and Rome, where respectively six and five favorites advanced to the quarterfinals.

A paradigm shift?

Press Several ATP players were surveyed on this prevailing trend. The most complete and most informative answer came from the mouth of Milos Raonic.

photo Frank Gunn, The Canadian Press

Milos Raonic

After being away from action for two years, he returned to action only a month ago. He was therefore in a good position to testify to the changes in the circuit since his departure. It was interesting to know whether in his opinion the circuit has become more competitive than it was when he himself was taking out the best players.

“I think it’s the opposite, he chewed at the beginning of the response which lasted exactly 2 minutes and 36 seconds. Probably the longest answer of his career.

“Previously, we had three exemplary and great players in the same sport and in the same generation”, he explains of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

“This case defies all normalities and everyone needs to revise expectations. If we look back at some tournaments, we had these three guys who played all the time, and who dominated all the Masters. Frankly, I think we forget it nowadays because we just focus on his titles and his Grand Slam record, but when I got on the circuit, it was just him and Andy (Murray) there. I would say 60-70% of the semi-finals consisted of them. ,

During its glory years, members of big Three 102 Masters 1000 titles shared: 38 for Djokovic, 36 for Nadal and 28 for Federer.

“I guess our memories are short and I’m going to admit my guilt,” Raonic gushed. Tennis was very different before Roger came along and Novak is still there and will continue to be competitive in the Grand Slams. But you have to think about the time when Andre (Agassi) and (Pete) Sampras were on the circuit. Many players can win big. In his time, there were many players who had only one or two majors. When this happened, the three men completely mocked the other players and made fun of the ability. ,

Indeed, after the three gunslingers, Agassi, Murray and Sampras are far behind in the Masters 1000 with 17, 14 and 11 titles.

He believes that this is something that we will deserve in the next few years. Meaning more parity and a return to normal in a way: “But those three guys were still there and they were winning most of the tournaments, but beyond that, I think we saw a situation similar to today, where players were positioned 16 5 can lose quickly. top 8 Not every week makes it to the quarterfinals. It’s just that three people completely changed the game and the standards for a long time. ,

more talent, sooner

However, the current situation is shocking. It is as if no classification logic is respected. And this phenomenon, which will increase in years to come, just confirms that no game is won in advance.

“We are in a very good tournament, said Felix Auger-Aliassime. We play with the best players in the world. In the matches that I have won during my career, the score was clearly in my favour, but before the match, I did not know whether I would win or lose. This is the reality of my work. ,

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina also poured his salt on Thursday by ousting world number five Casper Ruud.

“It’s just that it’s the Masters 1000. All games are against higher ranked players. The tables are always complicated to predict, but you have to be prepared for them. »

a special week

The truth is that eliminating the seed will always be an achievement. When Davydovich Fokina was asked whether his victory, having defeated one of the favorites to advance to the quarterfinals, increased the importance of his victory, he did not know what to say.

The Spaniard was speechless. He shrugged his shoulders, desperately looking for an answer. But sometimes silence is the best answer.

“I’m so glad,” he laughed at last.

“I always say that any player top 100 Can Beat Number One, 37 ExplainedI World Racket. The level is improving and more players are coming in young and with better preparation. ,

Also, speaking of the number one spot, Carlos Alcaraz narrowly escaped against Hubert Hercaz on Thursday evening. He almost got there too.

Photo Mark Blink, The Canadian Press

Carlos Alcaraz

While the board opens up more to players in the shadows, it also illuminates for players accustomed to the spotlight.

Even if the Spaniard’s potential opponents are ranked lower than expected, such a situation has no effect on his preparation.

I try not to think about it. I focus more on each game than on the overall picture. In Masters 1000, it doesn’t matter if the seeds come out early. I know any player here can beat me.

Carlos Alcaraz

The way he sees everything else, Alcaraz has nothing to do with the number at the end of his opponent’s name. He wants to win and he will prepare for this situation as well, no matter what comes his way. “I have to take every player in front of me seriously. I don’t like looking at the board and thinking about the future. I like to focus on myself. ,

Last year, Pablo Carreno Busta was 23 years oldI When he won in Montreal, he was ranked in the world rankings. This year, there are three out of eight chances that the winner will be ranked even lower.

Even though spectacle or interest may be affected, this unpredictability and this unpredictability is what makes up the beauty of modern tennis.

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