Rogers Masters Cup... Not Roger's Anymore

So the US Open Series is finally getting somewhat interesting, coverage is in full gear and at last week's Masters tournament in Montreal all top 20 players were present. Leez and I are finally starting to feel like the US Open is near.

We thought that we would wrap up last week's tournament with a couple thoughts that emerged during the week.

Someone else is finally in "the mix":
Djokovic meant serious business this week as he took out ARod, Nadal and finally Federer (gasp) to take his second Masters Series title this year, regain his number three position and jump to the head of the class in the US Open Series standings. Maybe Novak read our blog and saw our question, "who would be the next young gun to win a Maajor?" and decided he would give us his personal thoughts on that!! He really delivered the goods every time, saving 8 break points against Nadal and breaknig Fed while he was serving for the set 40-0 up. "No Joke" really showed that he is able to deal with the pressure moments on big occasions. We were most impressed with his serve and defence throughout the week, both of which may have caught Rafa and Fed by surprise.

That being said, while he's in the mix (which is great for tennis)- more so than any other #3 player since the Federer Nadal title monopoly of the last few years- Djokovic is yet to prove that physically he can withstand the test of a two week long best of five set tournament. Perhaps the US Open will be the place where he will answer that question!

And on a lighter note, he loves to take his shirt off way too much! After the fist 100 times it really isn't that cool, so use the celebratory strip downs wisely Novak!

Some free PR advice for Davydenko:
So the details surroundig the alleged betting incident involving Davydenko are a little sketchy. The fact that the bets for the top ranked Russian to lose even after winning the first set, along with the unusually large sums of money involved and the fact that he pulled out with an injury yet he came across to Montreal the very next week with no signs of any physical problems surely makes him look guilty in the court of public opinion... but as they say "innocent until proven guilty".

However, it seems that Davydenko is trying to "explain away" the situation by suggesting that the betters may have been aware of his injury. In a clip of one of his post match interviews on ESPN  Davydenko basically said (in his limited English) that the only one who knew about his injury was his wife and then he said maybe his trainer also knew. We just think it's really funny that he sort of implicated his wife in the whole thing. While her involvement is not impossible, even if he suspected  her, we still think it's pretty slick to sell out your new bride to the press and remove yourself entirely from the situation... how about just keeping your mouth shut Davydenko!

Do they get paid or is it charity work?:
This week I (Zar) observed a disturbing trend, it made me think back and I realise that this has been going on for a while now. I wonder: do linesmen/ women and chair umpires do get paid to do thier jobs? Because since the tournaments started up with their shot spot/ hawkeye/ player challenge/whatever they call it system it seems that on court officials too often prefer to let the players challenge than to get involved. During the Stepanek- Federer match Fed's serve was clearly long, as in the person in the last row of the stadium could call it: both players are waiting for the linesman's call. Federer looks confused, Stepanek asks the chair who responds by saying that he "couldn't tell" or "hadn't seen it" (where was he looking?!?). Federer still confused by the lapse finally suggests to Stepanek that he should challenge, the result- the ball off by a mile!

Oh and is it just us or does Stepanek have the strangest (most annoying) on-court antics ever?

In the Djokovic- Nadal match, Nad gets to a short ball but Djokovic sees that the ball bounced twice before Nadal got to it. Although Nadal's shot goes wide Djokovic confronts the chair about not making the call and the umpire calmly states that if he thought Nadal's shot would have gone in he would have said something. I'm sorry... isn't the rule that you call it when you see it!

My issue is that, we now see players becoming more and more aware of using thier challenges wisely, is it that they feel that should they run out of challenges too early in a set they are screwed? If so, something is really wrong with this system because the officials are still supposed to do thier jobs regardless, or does the challenge system mean that the on court officials can take a laid back attitude? I say unlimited challenges if that's the case! 

Now we are on to the Masters Series in Cincinnati, the jam packed schedule is never more obvious than when there are back to back Masters Series tournaments, even with the byes for the top 8 players it's still a pretty big ask... so we'll see how the semi-finalists and finalists from last week rise to the occasion this week!