Where are the Masters?
by Sean Randall | November 14th, 2005, 1:23 pm
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Rafael Nadal played in China, just not in ShanghaiHow do you spell U-G-L-Y. How about T-M-C.

Talk about a faint finish, the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai just got the news this morning that both Andre Agassi and Rafael Nadal have pulled out. Ouch! Replacing the two stars are Mariano Puerta and Fernando Gonzalez which makes the remaining 2005 field about as exiciting as a USTA boys 16 sectional and quite Master-less.

A field featuring Federer, Coria, Ljubicic, Nalbandian, Davydenko, Puerta, Guadio and Gonzalez would make most U.S. summer tournament directors (sans Newport) puke. Perhaps that field sells better in Shanghai where folks there don’t get too much tennis action, but here in the U.S. it would be labeled a bust.

And with that, so to goes any U.S. media coverage…

What’s real nice is who is not or no longer playing. Andy Roddick, Marat Safin, Lleyton Hewitt and now add Nadal and Agassi and basically Shanghai got an “inverse” field this year.

One has to wonder if the event was still held in Houston if things would have been any different attendance-wise. Let’s see. First off, Roddick for sure posts as he and Mattress Wack are tight. Agassi shows as well and probably plays through given “Wack” had Steffi play on his WTT team this summer. Marat’s not going and Lleyton would also likely pass, so the only advantage to having the event in Houston from a viewing/fan standpoint would be the addition of Roddick and Agassi. As a fan, I’ll take that and knowing I would also have to endure another “Wack” event over what I am being offered this week in Shang-low.

Point is, it’s bad luck for the ATP to have these guys all banged up, but it’s also there fault. The schedule does need to be adjusted and strong arm tactics need to be in place to ensure the top players post. Events like the TMC cannot be watered down to the point of resembling the Kitzbuhel quarterfinals. And watching Coria play Naldbandian tomorrow will not give me the feeling of watching “Masters.”

If it’s going to be named “Masters” it better have a few, right?


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