Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Mikhail Youzhny added to his seven career titles by beating Lukas Lacko in the final of the Zagreb Indoors tournament last week.
Mikhail Youzhny added to his seven career titles by beating Lukas Lacko in the final of the Zagreb Indoors tournament last week.

The advantage goes to the other guys

So-called 'lesser' tournaments, as well as the game's elite players taking a break, give the likes of Mikhail Youzhny a chance to grab the headlines, writes Paul Oberjuerge.

When defending the benefits of a long and extensive ATP Tour, Roger Federer in December noted that "it's not just the top guys" who are trying to make a living at tennis.

Fans got a reminder of that over the weekend, when 10 of the world's 11 highest-ranked players were recuperating from their exertions at the Australian Open.

Tomas Berdych, Mikhail Youzhny and Juan Monaco took advantage of the opportunities created to win ATP events and bank about US$80,000 (Dh294,000) each.

Berdych, the Czech, is ranked No 7, and he usually would not be considered someone crushed under the heel of the elite. But his victory at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier was only his second ATP title since 2009.

Youzhny's triumph in the Zagreb Indoors was a "where are they now?" moment for a man approaching 30 who twice reached the semi-finals of the US Open and briefly cracked the top 10 two years ago - but seemed to have fallen off the face of the Earth, a condition he might have been able to describe vividly when he lost in the first round at Melbourne three weeks back.

Monaco's victory in the VTR Open in Vina del Mar, Chile, was the fourth in the career of the 27 year old and allowed us to reflect on the sort of oh-by-the-way trivia unappreciated when he is a third-round appetiser for the Djokovics, Federers and Nadals of the world.

Monaco once dated the Argentine actress Luisano Lapilato, who is married to the singer Michael Buble, and he has a sand-and-sandals thing going on: his favourite movies are Gladiator and 300.

The three events also allowed a little light to be shined on the losing finalists, Gael Monfils, the colourful Frenchman; and especially Lukas Lacko, a 24-year-old Slovak; and Carlos Berlocq, a 28-year-old Argentine. Both Lacko and Berlocq were seeking their first ATP titles.

The economics of tennis, a topic which Federer at least seems to have given some thought to, also can be seen working in the three "lesser" tournaments.

The Montpellier event is one of several in France, but the Zagreb tournament seems to be a sort of regional championship for central and southern Europeans; and the Vina del Mar tournament is the first stop on a four-week clay-court lap of Latin America, which seems the least the ATP can do for a region that has produced so many elite players.

None of the ATP finalists over the weekend are likely to be world No 1, and considering that all but one of the past 28 slams has been won by three men, we should not expect one of the weekend's warriors to be a major champion.

But these are the players and those are the tournaments that are the foundation that the greats stand upon.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Mitchell Johnson of Kings XI Punjab bowling in the IPL match against Rajasthan Royals at Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah on Sunday. Pawan Singh / The National / April 20, 2014

IPL Day 5 action in Sharjah

Images from the fifth day of the Indian Premier League in the UAE on Sunday, with Kings XI Punjab beating Rajasthan Royals by seven wickets with eight balls remaining.

 Raheem Sterling of Liverpool scores the opening goal against Norwich City on Sunday at Carrow Road. Michael Regan / Getty Images / April 20, 2014

In pictures: Sterling, Suarez inch Liverpool closer to title

Raheem Sterling, with a double, and Luis Suarez accounted for all three goals in Liverpool’s 3-2 away win over Norwich City on Sunday, leaving them five points up on Chelsea with three left to play.

 Manager Matt Williams benching star Bryce Harper, above, may have sent the wrong message to the rest of the Washington Nationals. Mike Ehrmann / AFP

Benching Harper sends Williams’s right message the wrong way

Matt Williams, the Washington Nationals manager, made the biggest move of his 18-game tenure on Saturday, benching rising star Bryce Harper for his “lack of hustle”.

 Arsenal's Lukas Podolski celebrates his second goal during the Premier League match against Hull City at The KC Stadium in Hull, England, on April 20, 2014. Lynne Cameron / AP Photo

Arsenal maintain push for top-four finish with victory at Hull

Hull could end up in Europe regardless of the FA Cup final result if Arsenal finish in the Uefa Champions League places

 Ashish Nehra of Chennai Super Kings bowls to Kings XI Punjab at Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Hard-hitting Chennai not deterred by opening loss in IPL

But some questions remain about the team's attack ahead of Monday's match against Delhi Daredevils in Abu Dhabi, writes Osman Samiuddin.

 Stanislas Wawrinka turned away fellow Swiss Roger Federer with a 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 victory at the Monte Carlo Masters on April 20, 2014. Julian Finney / Getty Images

Wawrinka backhands Federer aside at Monte Carlo Masters

Stanislas Wawrinka won the Monte Carlo Masters for the first time after rallying to beat Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 in a rare all-Swiss final.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National