A Few Words For Montanes
July 20, 2010
He may not have the physique of Rafael Nadal, or the sex appeal of Fernando Verdasco, but Spaniard Albert Montanes continues to turn heads on the ATP World Tour.
Capturing his second title of the season on Sunday, the 29-year-old from Barcelona proved that his success on the second tier of the circuit was no fluke.
Defeating Roger Federer in Estoril earlier this year for his fourth career title, Montanes benefited from an ankle injury to Gael Monfils in Stuttgart over the weekend for career title No. 5. Using his deceptively powerful one-handed backhand, Montanes’ off the apex hit serve is always difficult to read.
In a day and age where Tour success in Spain has hit legendary proportions, Montanes has proved that just because he’s entering the twilight of his career, there’s no reason to slow down.
Picking up 80 percent of his Tour hardware after the age of 28, Montanes’ fit and efficient game has taken him to a career high rank of No. 24 this week. Reaching the third-round of every Major thus far in 2010, Montanes may not push for his maiden Grand Slam title anytime soon, but he’s certainly one to watch when the draws are released.
There’s always been an endearing quality about players who enjoy maximizing their talents. It’s not so much about winning Wimbledon or topping the rankings as the longest standing No. 1—it’s more about the experience of respecting their profession and understanding that their day job is to travel and rip a forehand.
With all of the hoop la that’s surrounded the Dennis Rodmans and Cristiano Ronaldos of the world, Montanes has upheld and surpassed what a role model in sports should be: A hard-working, dedicated athlete, who wakes up every morning with the sole purpose of improving.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Montanes looks forward to tournaments such as Estoril, Umag, and Bucharest. The fields are usually not top heavy, and Montanes can let his shots fly with a greater degree of confidence. It’s not that Montanes doesn’t want to be challenged by the towering fields in New York or Australia—more than anything, the Barcelona native has accepted that his time to shine will likely come at 250 point events.
That to me is a wonderful quality for a Tour player to have. Let’s be honest here, how many players who are slogging it out in the Futures and Challengers events wouldn’t sign up for a chance to hold a top 25 ranking, and two Tour titles on the year?
You probably wouldn’t have Nadal or Novak Djokovic stand in that line, but there’s no doubt that the Taylor Dents and Janko Tipsarevics on Tour would be more than adamant on filling that position.
Saluting Montanes for his efforts, it’s once again a pleasure to witness a player who is not looking for billboard status, but merely to enjoy the wonderful experience of traveling the globe and telling a ball person that he needs a towel.
There may only be one Rafael Nadal, but the sport in general would greatly benefit with more Albert Montanes’ around.