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Lately, a lot of excitement has been generated because of the swelling field of ATP contenders. With Spanish star Rafael Nadal sitting out with injury, Novak Djokovic playing subpar tennis and Andy Murray still trying to turn back the clock to the Ivan Lendl-coaching days, the prevailing outlooks show that other contenders are closing in for big titles.
But not this week at Cincinnati. While Roger Federer and David Ferrer showed their old reliable selves, other opportunists fell flat.
Ernests Gulbis, Tomas Berdych, Grigor Dimitrov and Stanislas Wawrinka were defeated early and left wondering about their games as they fly east to New York. As usual, their big games were overshadowed by more inconsistent results.
What next? Which of these players has the best chance to get on a roll and get to the second weekend at the U.S. Open?
Gulbis is streaky and not a great bet until people forget about him.
Berdych was a 2012 U.S. Open semifinalist, but the wind blew away his toss and exposed his fragility.
Dimitrov flopped the past two weeks when he had every opportunity to compete for Masters titles.
Wawrinka is looking more than ever like a one-Slam wonder, the kind of story that should run on VH1.
And yet the aging champions Roger Federer, Nadal and Djokovic somehow keep finding ways to trade off on their winning. Which means that if one of the second-tier players does break through, he will have to knock off one of the tried-and-true champions.