Passing shots: Crowded at the top
History was made last Friday at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, when the world's top eight players took part in the quarterfinals of the same tournament for the first time since the ATP Tour starting the rankings in August 1973.
The order of play was something out of a tennis fantasy camp for the ticket holders in Montreal:
The Great Eight could have been just a fun factoid, a historic footnote to tuck away for the next barroom trivia session. Instead, the star-studded quarters proved a vivid demonstration of the depth atop men's tennis -- a state
Whatever drama was absent from Friday's opener (Murray eliminated Davydenko in straight sets) was supplied in bulk when Tsonga staged a miraculous recovery from down 5-1 in the third set to stun the top-ranked Federer, who had won his previous 22 matches.
Under the lights, Roddick defeated Djokovic for the third time in three meetings on hard courts this season, effectively surpassing the Serb among popular opinion if not yet the computer rankings. In the nightcap, del Potro rallied from a 5-2 deficit against Nadal for a 7-5 victory in a 78-minute first set. He cruised 6-1 in the second set.
In Saturday's semifinals, Murray ousted Tsonga in straight sets while del Potro edged Roddick in a three-set thriller for the second time in seven days. On Sunday Murray dispatched del Potro for his fifth title of the season and 13th of his career.
Eight players from eight different nations played seven hard-fought matches in three days -- and it was the third and sixth seeds who made it through to the finals. It was a symbolic statement of the parity in the tour's top tier, amplified by Murray's ascent to No. 2 in Monday's rankings. The 22-year-old Scot became the first player not named Federer or Nadal to rank among the top two since
No one could accuse
Clijsters, who married and gave birth to a daughter since leaving the WTA Tour in 2007, dominated the headlines with an impressive string of victories against top 20 opponents. She knocked off No. 13
She also spared the women's game a heap of embarrassment by losing to No. 1-ranked
But Safina acquitted herself nicely, and now Clijsters has turned her attention to the next step of her comeback, this week's Rogers Cup in Toronto, followed by the U.S. Open. Meanwhile, the Belgian is upping the ante in the social media realm, not only Tweeting (
Quick suggestion for next week: The qualifying tournament for the U.S. Open starts Aug. 25 and runs through Aug. 28, with matches beginning at 11 a.m. at the USTA National Tennis Center in New York.
Whether you're a casual fan or a hardcore junkie, it's a terrific way to get an up-close look at some of the best players in the world as they compete for one of the precious vacancies in the main draw. With free admission, it's also one of the best bargains in New York City.
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