Indian Wells is under the way and B/R tennis has started seeing a flurry of articles about the top guns participating and gracing the event.
And since the "Top Guns" includes most of the top ranked players, I thought this would serve as a perfect background to the players this article is dedicated to.
Although I am sure that by this time almost everyone would have figured out who am I talking about, I would nevertheless like to present the obvious names of Jo- Wilfred Tsonga, Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils.
To devote an article to these gifted men, we need to rewind our memory back to 2008 or to be more specific, just three tournaments in that year which changed the course of their lives.
These three paved the way for French tennis in 2008 and given the solid form they are enjoying currently, a few more surprises might be in order.
And each has quite a fascinating tale to tell after the big inroads....
While Tsonga did not remain steady the way he was when he reached the finals of the Oz Open Finals as an unseeded player; Monfils failed to re-create the magic he produced to notch up a Semi- Final berth at Roland Garros.
But Simon was the best of the trio. After turning pro in 2002 luck finally came his only after six years when he stunned Roger Federer who was the defending champion in the second round of Rogers Masters.
It was probably the first time that the world media would have zoomed in its camera lens on Gilles Simon.
His good run, didn't by any means end there. After Federer he defeated Rafa a few months later in the Semi-Finals of the Madrid Masters before bowing down to Andy Murray in the Finals.
Yet, thats not the end of the story. While Monfils couldn't do anything better than Paris and Tsonga broke into the top 10 and qualified for his first year end Masters Cup at Shanghai, the cup overflowed for Simon.
Rafa developed tendinitis and had to withdraw from the tournament giving Simon a wild card substitution for Shanghai Masters. He didn't disappoint finishing with a Semi-Final berth defeating Roger Federer once again en-route.
Finally, at the end of the season both Simon and Tsonga ended the year featuring among the top 10 players in the world.
Their saga, however spills onto 2009 as each tried to better his performance and is still trying to do so; and where Tsonga is vacillating between periods of excellence and mediocrity, Monfils and Simon have already fortified their rankings.
With players like Santoro retiring after this season and Richard Gasquet not quite living up to his nickname, its in the hands of these lads to prove a point or two.
And there is no better time than the present to do it! Indian wells, California awaits!
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