In the first two Masters 1000 of the year, Indian Wells and Miami, nobody of the "Big Four" arrived to the final. The last time it happened was in Bercy 2008.
Montecarlo is now approaching, but aside from Nadal, defending his record of 155-6 and 24 trophies since 2005, there's a long list of defections: Roger Federer's trying to salvage energies for the Slams, Davydenko, Soderling and Del Potro are variously injured, Andy Roddick has just to search a good excuse not to play on the clay, Gilles Simon is mentally and physically out; Andy Murray changed idea in the last moment and asked for a wild-card.
We have to consider, however, that ATP doesn't oblige top players to play Montecarlo, as they must do in the other Masters1000 tournaments, but there's a clear perspective of a paradigm shift on the rise.
Once big players considered these kind of tournaments as relevant goals to achieve in their season. Now they go playing unwillingly, not enough fit, not 100% focused, and somebody has started to malign they are losing on purpose. But it's not a satisfying theory.
Where's the guilt? The Atp, forcing players to be present is obtaining exactly the opposite result. But players, on their own, are seemingly more and more snob and prefer focusing on the Slams to gain more future glory.
The question could otherwise be individuated in a crowded calendar, although it's true that the players chose where to play and they're becoming greedy of money and prizes.
So, we have to recognize that Atp is facing the same critics, is on the same root of the Wta, criticized for an excessive amount of defeats for top players against lower ranked opponents, for feeble top seeded players and for a World No.1, Serena Williams, focusing almost exclusively on Grand Slam events.
It's now hard to sustain that, if Wta had these problems because the game was downgrading, Atp is in this moment because the game is tighter.