INSIDE MEN'S TENNIS 2012
Inside Men's Tennis By Brad Drewett - August Edition
by Brad Drewett, ATP Executive Chairman & President|
Men’s tennis has witnessed several extraordinary highs this season and it is difficult to recall a more momentous time in the history of tennis. Our players have produced incredible storylines all season and Wimbledon and the Olympic tennis event were no exceptions. To the delight of fans and sponsors, the trend has continued onto the North American hard court circuit at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati ahead of next week's US Open.
Roger Federer's amazing career reached fresh peaks at the All England Club, where a seventh Wimbledon victory and 17th Grand Slam title overall saw him return to the top of the South African Airways ATP Rankings, breaking the record for the most weeks as World No.1. In terms of history, this record is huge.
Pete Sampras had held the record of 286 weeks since the week of November 13, 2000 and, after Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had taken over at No. 1 for long stints, it seemed as though this milestone might be the one benchmark beyond even Roger.
Already the most decorated player in men's tennis with a record 24 Grand Slam singles finals appearances, 76 singles titles and Olympic gold (in doubles) and silver (singles), Roger is now into his third separate stint as No.1 after first reaching the pinnacle in February 2004. It is a tribute to Roger's durability and undiminished skill that, at the age of 31, he is having another vintage season.
While Andy was denied in an electrifying Wimbledon final by Roger, he would have his revenge - and a precious piece of history - less than a month later in the Olympic final on the very same court. Andy's superb and dominating display earned him the gold medal, while the quality of his tennis strongly suggests he is on the brink of his first Grand Slam win.
In further evidence of the global popularity of our sport, five men’s tennis players were given the honour of being Olympic flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony: Novak Djokovic (Serbia), Max Mirnyi (Belarus), Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus), Stanislas Wawrinka (Switzerland), and Horia Tecau (Romania), all led their countries into the Olympic Stadium.
Rafa too would have been Spain’s flag bearer, except for the unfortunate knee injury that sidelined him from competing at the Olympics, the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Toronto and Cincinnati and the upcoming US Open. I would like to wish Rafa a speedy recovery and I am sure he will come back very soon to compete for more titles and the World No. 1 ranking.
Bob and Mike Bryan emerged with the Olympic doubles gold medal. The win is yet another impressive chapter in a magnificent career for the Bryans.
Elsewhere, one of the great stories of the summer has been Tommy Haas's effort to return to the Top 25 at the age of 34. It really is an amazing effort and Tommy is a great candidate for the ATP Comeback Player of the Year award. Tommy started the year outside the top 200 but, after winning Halle where he beat his good friend Roger in the final, he also made the final in Hamburg and the quarter-finals in Toronto, and is now ranked at No. 22.
Similarly, Novak showed tremendous resilience to bounce back from the disappointment of losing the No. 1 ranking and the Wimbledon title by winning in Toronto.Novak showed great mental toughness to refocus after the Olympics to beat Richard Gasquet in the final as the Bryan brothers won the doubles title for the fourth time.
Meanwhile Roger continued his amazing run by winning in Cincinnati for a record fifth time, defeating Novak in a clash of the world's two top-ranked players. That was Roger’s 21st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, tying Rafa’s record. The Cincinnati tournament set a new attendance record of 175,963 as Robert Lindstedt and Horia Tecau took home the doubles title and became the third team to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
In singles Novak, Roger and Rafa are the first three players to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals and, with Andy almost certain to join that trio, the season-ending tournament is again shaping up to be a massive highlight of the tennis year.
While we are fortunate to have the fabulous four leading the ATP World Tour, exciting new talents continue to flourish. Milos Raonic is taking giant strides after breaking into the Top 20 with a career-high ranking of No. 16 and has quickly become a cult figure among fans. With his explosive game, his potential is unlimited.
Enjoy the tennis in the coming weeks. There is a lot more excitement to come!