Djokovic was about to become the first new No. 1 since Nadal and Roger Federer began their dominance in February 2004 and the first man in nine years other than those two to win Wimbledon.
The Rogers Cup in Montreal is the first tournament since that seismic shift in which the key protagonists play, and to mark the event, the organisers are holding a ceremony on its opening day to honor Djokovic’s achievement.
With eight titles—two of them Grand Slams—and 48 match wins to his name, the Serb has so transformed the tennis scene that it is hard to see anyone knocking him from his lofty pedestal this side of 2012. The main contenders—Nadal and Federer along with Andy Murray—are not only big points adrift in the rankings but also have a lot to defend in the forthcoming “big three” events of the U.S. Open Series.
All four made the semis in the Toronto Masters: Murray won. All four made the quarters of Cincinnati: Federer won. All but Murray made the semis of the U.S. Open. Nadal beat Djokovic in the final.
In the Canadian Open in particular, the top quartet has been especially dominant. All have won this title before: Murray, Federer and Nadal twice each, Djokovic once in 2007—beating Federer, who was also the beaten finalist last year.
So there is much at stake—titles, points and rankings—should things go drastically wrong.