Why Has Daniel Nestor's Golden Masters Been Ignored?
Daniel Nestor is embraced by teammate Max Mirnyi after winning the 2012 French Open. Photo: National Post

It was once said that the best doubles team in the world is John McEnroe and anyone else, the implication being that John McEnroe is the best doubles player in the world and he can win with any partner. That was in the 1980s. If there is a modern equivalent, it’s Daniel Nestor. Nestor has won eight slams with three different partners, winning multiple slams with each partner. He’s also won four mixed doubles slam titles with three different partners. He’s won Masters 1000 titles with five different partners. His 108 weeks at number one were spent with three different partners. This summer, he found a new partner in Edouard Roger-Vasselin, with whom he had never played before. They reached back-to-back Masters 1000 finals, winning Cincinnati. Roger-Vasselin was Nestor’s fifth partner with whom he won a Masters 1000 title, while it was Roger-Vasselin’s first Masters 1000 title.

Nestor is one of the greatest doubles players of all-time. His ability to win with a variety of partners arguably makes him the best individual doubles player of all-time. He’s the owner of a career Golden Slam, the only male doubles player to accomplish it with different partners (Australia, France, US with Knowles, Wimbledon with Zimonjic, Olympics with Lareau). Compare him to the other great doubles players, they may have won more slams or spent more weeks at number one, but they did it with an iconic partner. McEnroe had most of his success with Peter Fleming. The Bryans and the Woodies are called as such because they were/are iconic pairs, but they always played together. They never had quite the same success individually. Nestor has had great success with different partners. While his partnership with Mark Knowles was great, Nestor went on to have great success with Nenad Zimonjic and Max Mirnyi, while Knowles slipped into obscurity after parting with Nestor. In fact, of Nestor’s partners had their best years with Nestor. There is a common denominator. It’s the Canadian legend. That’s why he might be the greatest individual doubles player of all-time.

Nestor (right) with partner Sebastian Lareau after their victory at the 2000 Summer Olympics. Photo: Tennis Canada

Nestor has a rare achievement that most people, including the ATP apparently, are unaware that he has. Nestor was the first player to complete the career Golden Masters. Seriously. That honour is normally given to Bob and Mike Bryan, who won Shanghai in 2014 to supposedly become the first player to do it. They were the first doubles team to manage the feat, but were not the first players. Nestor did it first. When Nestor won Shanghai in 2011, it was his ninth different Masters 1000 title, not including Hamburg while it was a Masters Series event. However, there was no mention of Nestor completing the “Golden Masters.” Of course, the term “Golden Masters” hadn’t yet been created. But there still was no mention of the fact that Nestor was the first player to win all the Masters 1000 titles. If winning all nine Masters 1000 titles was not a publicly-acknowledged accomplishment in 2011, it’s understandable that it wasn’t made into a big deal. After all, how can you complete the Golden Masters when it wasn’t a thing until 2013?

But when Novak Djokovic closed to within one Masters 1000 title of completing the set in 2013, the ATP created the term “golden masters” as something for Djokovic to complete. What’s inexplicable is that the ATP tried to bill Djokovic as the first player who could complete the feat. The problem is that even if Djokovic had won Cincinnati that year, he wouldn’t have been the first player to do it. He would have been the first singles player, but not the first player. Nestor did it in 2011. Why, when the ATP created the “Golden Masters,” did the not mention the fact that it had been done? They could still say Djokovic would be the first singles player, but how hard would it have been to acknowledge the fact that Daniel Nestor had already done it? Apparently it was very hard, because the ATP never mentioned it.

The real slap in the face for one of the greatest tennis players ever, and the one of the ATP’s most enduring champions (Nestor is 43 in September), came a year later. When Bob and Mike Bryan won Shanghai in 2014, they completed the career Golden Masters. By doing so, the ATP and the media credited them as the first players to complete the Golden Masters. They were the first team to do it together, but they were not the first players to do it. Again, Nestor had done it first. But once again, the fact that Nestor has completed the Golden Masters in 2011 was ignored. Bob and Mike Bryan are, according to public record, the first players to complete the career Golden Masters. This is wrong. It’s as simple as that. Daniel Nestor was first. The Bryans were the first team to do it, but Daniel Nestor was the first player.

Why has this happened? Why has the ATP and the media ignored the fact that Daniel Nestor, one of the greatest champions the sport has ever seen, has completed his Golden Masters? It doesn’t make sense. It’s not surprising that it wasn’t acknowledged when he completed it in 2011 seeing as he was the first and he did it in doubles, which is less popular and publicized than singles. But why not mention it once the term was coined? Especially once another doubles team completed it. By not giving Nestor credit, the ATP and the media is distorting history. All they have to do is say Nestor’s done it and they’ve put it right. It’s not hard. By doing it, it’s not like their hurting themselves or damaging their integrity, which they are by consistently ignoring Nestor’s accomplishment. They would simply be acknowledging a great achievement by a legendary player. Very few people would bat an eyelash at the fact that it took so long. Probably only this writer would describe that action as putting things right. The majority of tennis fans would probably think it was cool that Nestor had done it. What’s wrong with that? It’s only fair. The longer the ATP ignores it, the worse it looks. It’s an easy thing to fix. Daniel Nestor has been one of the best players in tennis for over twenty years. He’s earned the respect of the tennis world. So just give him the credit he deserves and acknowledge that he was the first man to complete his Golden Masters.