The Masters events have a long way to go to be recognised as important in a player's resume.
The Australian Open used to be viewed with similar status but with the depth of comeptition its
status has steadily grown. The same thing is true to a certain extent for the Masters but my
opinion is that there will never be a time when Masters events would be considered more than a footnote
in player's resumes. I don't think the same would happen if we had a 5th Grand Slam in the long term
and here is why I'm placing little importance on Master events:
1. Masters events have only been around in some form since 1970. In its current format 1990.
2. They have a smaller field than Majors.
3. They are by nature ATP-specific whereas Grand Slams is a spectacular joint event between ATP and WTA
4. Masters have been downgraded to best of 3 sets whereas Grand Slams for ATP is a titanic best of 5.
5. All the top players enter Grand Slams primarily for the prestige whereas the ATP has been forced to slap a mandatory level of attendance for the Masters after players would be consistently citing tiredeness especially at the end of the year. If the players can't be bothered, why should we be.
6. There is no consistency with the location or date of the Masters events. Grand Slams rarely move location and certainly never change the dates (week). Hamburg does not exist with Masters status, Shanghai has replaced it.
Madrid has changed both surface and date. Way too much tinkering, albeit with some good reasons. This makes it difficult to take seriously for both players and fans.
Some examples to illustrate how relatively meaningless winning a Masters event is:
Sampras won 14 slams and 11 Masters, a total of 25 wins.
Agassi won 8 slams and 17 Masters, the same total of 25 wins.
Nobody in the their right mind would suggest Agassi is a greater player than Sampras
despite the career Grand Slam.
Therefore you might as well discard the Masters wins from the resume, it would make no difference.
Tommy Robredo is a Masters winner.
On the other hand Masters events is a good thing for tennis.
Before 1970 the only worthwhile tournaments worth seeing were the Grand Slams (aside from the AO) as this
was the only chance you could see all the top male players.
At least the ATP is attempting to force players to make the Masters worth watching by making them attend.
The mistake they made was to downgrade the event to 3 sets. This prevents even a joint event from being regarded
in the same light.
Having said that I wouldn't lose sleep over missing a Masters tournament whereas I would have to be hospitalised to miss a Grand Slam.
I am interested to hear thoughts and opinions on whether or not you think Masters events are important.
Well you have made some interesting points. I also think it was a terrible decision to make the finals best of 3 sets. Now most finals finish in an hour which is quite frankly dull.
I like the tournaments, I like watching Rome, Cincinnati,Indian Wells and Miami. The problem I have is since 2001 I haven't seen much Masters matches because ISL did that mega contract to take the Masters series to pay television. ISL soon went bust but still these tournaments are on pay TV. Before then, the Mercedes Super nines used to be on Eurosport so more people had access. I've been watching a lot more womens Tennis than mens because I have Eurosport and I have no intention of paying for Masters tournaments, certainly not on the ATP website.
I also used to think that winning a Super Nine / Masters series event was good preparation for players winning a future slam. I don't have that feeling in the last two years.