There have so far been three Masters Series events on the cement in 2009. Murray has won the last two of them and was the runner-up at the first. It is therefore appropriate to say that this Scot sits on the royal throne of second-tier hard court events.
But here’s the rub: After being touted as a future Grand Slam for most of the year, Murray needed this win more than anyone else in the top 10. Roger Federer has had a very preoccupying off-season since Wimbledon, during which tennis was probably far from his mind; Rafael Nadal is just happy to be playing again, and Juan Martin del Potro still has yet to win a Masters shield.
Murray did his part by staying ahead of the pack for now, but needs to keep it up between now and New York. The US Open is probably his best chance for a major, but such chances can come and go quickly.
Juan Martin del Potro
The Argentine has had his share of big wins in the past year, but his straight-sets win over Nadal and narrow win over Andy Roddick in the semis would have to be considered his best back-to-back victories to date.
His fitness let him down in the third set of the final, but that just goes to show that this two-meter-tall 20-year-old still has some growing to do.
Every other man on tour ought to be wary of the day his growth is complete.
At last year’s Open, he lost decisively to Novak Djokovic. In Montreal, with help from Larry Stefanki and his grueling off-court preparation, the American improved to 3-0 against the Serb in 2009.
Unfortunately, he’s now 0-3 lifetime against del Potro, the latest top 10 sensation.
Just another week if the life of A-Rod, the unluckiest guy in the top 10.
The Grand Slam king’s first on-court venture since Wimbledon had a bizarre ending, with him letting a two-break lead in the third set slip against the streaky Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
This result probably reflects the new dad’s more complicated life, and he’s indicated he’ll address the issues surrounding his defeat before the Open starts.
There’s no reason to doubt him; the hard-court season he had last year proved that preparation, at least for King Federer, is overrated.
It’s good to have the bull running again. After a pair of matches—well, one and a half—of preparation, Nadal’s loss to the surging del Potro shouldn’t have been a big surprise.
Cincinnati may be key; if he improves on his Canadian expedition he may well have achieved his goal for the summer, which was to play his way into form for the Open.
But if he loses early in Cincy, then it’s anybody’s guess how he does in New York.
In the last year and a half, the Frenchman has beaten Nadal, Murray, Djokovic (multiple times) and now Federer.
His come-from-behind win over the Great Swiss, along with his sliding half volley (at the 1:34 point in this clip) prove him to be as exciting to watch as any player active right now.
He reminds more and more of Boris Becker, minus the slam wins, of course.
Earlier bullish predictions are getting harder and harder to justify.