BNP Paribas Masters 2012: Men’s draw preview and analysis
October 26, 2012 · Print This Article
(Editor’s note: The draw preview for the Paris Indoors was made on Friday prior to Roger Federer’s withdrawal)
Have we really reached the final two weeks of the season on the ATP World Tour? With the women wrapping up proceeding in Istanbul last week, it’s the men’s turn to take over and finish off the tennis calender.
With Rafael Nadal “officially” announcing that he’s done for the season, the race to the World Tour Finals in London will now feature two remaining spots.
While Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Janko Tipsarevic currently hold the final two positions for the culminating event, the likes of Nicolas Almagro, Richard Gasquet, Juan Monaco and Milos Raonic all still hold a mathematical chance of qualifying.
Tsonga has pulled in quality results this fall before retiring in Valencia, and his recent acquisition of partnering up with Roger Rasheed as his new coach should only bring him further success going forward. I’d be shocked at this point if Tsonga didn’t enter the O2 Arena ready to battle, but that final spot—which Tipsarevic currently holds—is certainly up for grabs.
Defending champion Roger Federer is still signed up play; ditto goes for Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Of the three featured players in the draw, one would have to think that Djokovic is in the best position to prevail. He still has a chip on his shoulder from a relatively poor season, and that desire to gain the necessary momentum to start 2013 in style, is ever present. Murray to me might be saving his energy for his forthcoming return to London, while Federer’s 31-year-old body will find it hard to compete at a high level for three straight weeks.
With that being said, the court surface in Bercy is perhaps the fastest all year and that will without question favor an attacking player.
Let’s now checkout the top and bottom halves of the draw and see who will attack the best in Paris.
Just when we thought that Federer was done winning Masters titles, he proves us wrong by taking Indian Wells, Madrid and Cincinnati this year. The world’s best player (for the moment) has 1000 points to defend here and make no mistake about it that he’ll be feeling the pressure. I know Federer won Basel, Paris and London in 2011, but to repeat all three 12 months later would truly be something. (That’s saying a lot for someone who owns 17 majors).
Looking at Federer’s draw, he starts against Baghdatis or Simon, before crossing paths with either Nishikori in the third-round and Gasquet or Berdych in the quarters. I know I say this from draw preview to draw preview, but Berdych can’t be taken for granted in these tournaments. He’s won this event before and pretty much waxed Federer the last time they played in New York. With that being said, the lightning surface in Bercy could give Berdych’s wristy forehand some trouble, if in fact he faces the Swiss star.
US Open and Olympic Gold medal winner Murray is also in this half; he’ll have to encounter Cilic and Tipsarevic early if he’s to reach the semis. I’d say at this point that Murray has a distinct advantage over many players in the draw because he’s already qualified for the WTF and he’s coming in fresh. The same, as mentioned above, can’t be said for Federer.
My instincts tell me that Berdych isn’t finished with his spell of good form, and for that reason I’ll take him to play Murray in the semis.
Semifinal Picks: Murray, Berdych
One of four former winners in the draw, Djokovic was wise to skip Basel last week in order to conserve his energy for Paris and London. The best returner in the game will have his top asset tested when he begins against Querrey or Verdasco and then possibly Raonic, Isner, del Potro or former semifinalist Llodra just to make the final four.
If Djokovic does squeak out of this quarter, he could face Tsonga or Ferrer in the quarters. I’d say that Djokovic should be able to roll by Ferrer on this surface, but defending finalist Tsonga won’t be an easy out. Tsonga should be ready to keep his energy high throughout the week, and that should bode well for him in reaching another final here.
The calm before London’s storm is in Paris this week and should provide us with a few popcorn matches heading into the final official event of the 2012.
Picks: Djokovic, Tsonga
Champion: Murray defeats Tsonga