Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters.
Mere weeks—four, if we want to be exact—remain on the 2018 tennis season.
After all this time, all these matches and points won, all these hours practicing your crosscourt backhands as well as sliced serves on the advantage side, after all this tennis is almost ready to pack it in for the winter.
The offseason lasts a month and change, and it’s just about knocking on our door. You know how sometimes we kinda maybe complain a bit because there’s just so much going on with you, tennis? Yeah, never mind that, too much is still better than none. 🙁 🙁 🙁
Let’s enjoy it all while we still can.
We’re moving from Singapore to Paris this week for the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters on the men’s side, from an Elina Svitolina triumph over Sloane Stephens at the WTA Finals for the second-to-last biggest event remaining on the ATP World Tour calendar.
Might we be able to predict how this main draw will unfold? In all likelihood, no but that doesn’t mean we can’t try. A reminder that, a year ago, this tournament crowned Jack Sock of all people—that’s how long it’s been and that’s how wild this event gets.
This week will be the one that finally and truly puts out of his misery American Jack Sock, still with only seven matches won this year, and the week that brings into sharp focus what’s been a tragic 2018 season for the man after probably the best season of his life a year ago: we know he won’t defend his 400 points in London, but he’s also the defending champion here in France. If either Richard Gasquet or Denis Shapovalov can’t get the job done in the second round, then surely Sock won’t make it past the third round.
Gulbis beats Jack Sock 7-5, 6-4 in Basel R1, his second win over Sock in six days.
That loss puts #18 Sock, at last, on the edge of a *massive* rankings cliff.
Sock will have 1,400 of his 1,760 points coming off in the next two weeks. 400, from London WTF, are undefendable.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) October 24, 2018
You know what’s crazy? That with the number of times Rafael Nadal has triumphed at Roland Garros, he still has yet to do the same at this final Masters 1000 on the calendar and that’s held in the very same city as the French Open. There are reasons, of course: different playing surface, different event, it’s late in the year when Nadal is often struggling physically, yada yada… Still, it’s odd.
Let’s keep this tradition going another year, with Dominic Thiem keeping up his domination over the Spaniard for another week. This Paris Masters also tends to be the place where the surprising seems to happen routinely, so let’s roll with John Isner and Diego Schwartzman emerging from the second portion of the draw.
Paris Masters 2018:
Djokovic is 215 points behind Nadal for world No. 1.
Nadal is defending 180 points; Djokovic 0.
Quarters points: 180
Semis points: 360
Will Djokovic retain the top spot this week?
— Tennis Connected (@TennisConnected) October 28, 2018
In the lower half the draw, all eyes will be on Roger Federer, who has kept trudging along to his inner typical excellence with a 99th career title over the weekend, as well as Novak Djokovic, who could very well manage the exploit of making it back to World No. 1 after ranking as low (for him) as No. 22 in mid-June. But keep an eye on Kei Nishikori as the Japanese has been playing like the heyday of his 2014 breakthrough—and his results have more than followed suit as well.
Nishikori’s since the US Open
He was completely out of the Race to London before that tournament.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) October 27, 2018
However, we don’t foresee this Paris Masters being the exception to this rule.
Quarterfinals: Dominic Thiem over Rafael Nadal; John Isner over Diego Schwartzman; Kei Nishikori over Roger Federer; Novak Djokovic over Steve Johnson
Semifinals: Dominic Thiem over John Isner; Novak Djokovic over Kei Nishikori
Final: Dominic Thiem over Novak Djokovic
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG