2013 ATP Paris Preview, Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The final full field ATP event of the year and the final Masters series event of the year is upon us.
2013 has been an exciting season and this should be the conclusion. With tennis, the season never really ends.
They just break until the sunshine of January comes back.
BNP Paribas Masters
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
October 28-November 3, 2013
Prize Money: € 2,646,495
Top 8 seeds (top 16 seeds receive first round byes)
1: Rafael Nadal
2: Novak Djokovic
3: David Ferrer
4: Juan Martin Del Potro
5: Roger Federer
6: Tomas Berdych
7: Stanislas Wawrinka
8: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
The 7 through 10 seeds are all battling for the final World Tour Finals spots.
First round matchups to watch
Ernests Gulbis vs. Fernando Verdasco
This will be the third meeting this year between the hard hitting pair. Gulbis won on clay and Verdasco won on grass at the two previous meetings, and this will be their first hard court meeting ever.
Verdasco comes off a first round loss in Valencia and has been pedestrian this fall.
Gulbis lost to John Isner in Valencia but has had a good fall. It will be interesting to see if he tapers off in form or gets hot again in what will be his final tournament of the year. A year that has been good to the Latvian.
(WC)Nicolas Mahut vs. Alex Dolgopolov
This is an upset opportunity for the veteran French wild card. Mahut is looking to break into the top 50 after a career year that featured 2 ATP titles and an ATP semifinal on his record, along an indoor challenger final in France this month and an indoor challenger title.
Dolgopolov has been abysmal this year and that has continued into the fall. He’s just 2-3 in his last 3 events.
Look for Mahut to grab the win.
Gael Monfils vs. Vasek Pospisil
Monfils has a 2-0 h2h against the in form Canadian, another player who has had a career year. One of those wins for Monfils just came in Shanghai, but it was close and Pospisil comes off semis in Basel, where he nearly made the final. Monfils is on a losing streak of 2 straight first round exits and I think Pospisil can narrow the h2h here in Paris.
Kevin Anderson vs. Mikhail Youzhny
Youzhny has a 2-0 h2h against Big Kev and comes off a title in Valencia. Playing Great.
In contrast, Anderson is limping to the finish line with just one post US Open win in 5 tries.
All of that means Youzhny should prevail, but this one is mainly interesting to see how he bounces back from the run in Valencia. Anderson is still an adept indoors player.
Marin Cilic vs. (Q) Igor Sijsling
Marin Cilic is back on tour after having his doping suspension reduced on appeal, and of course this is his first event back after a whirlwind past few months.
The Croatian star hasn’t played since Wimbledon and nobody knows where his head or game is right now. Because of the forced suspension, his ranking has nearly dropped out of the top 50 and that is another reason he could use some wins here. Standing in his way is qualifier Igor Sijsling, who he edged past in Memphis this year, also indoors and also a close match with two tiebreaks deciding it. This one is really hard to pick given the circumstances of both players.
Edouard Roger-Vasselin vs. Ivan Dodig
Basel semifinalist ERV will face Dodig for the first time at the ATP level. Dodig made quarters in Basel and both have had streaks of great play this year. I give Dodig a slight edge, but this one could go either way and both these guys will look to keep up their quality play in 2014.
Rafael Nadal still has something to play for this season, as he has a chance to take an ATP record six Masters titles in one season.
He opens with Dmitry Tursunov/Marcel Granollers while Jerzy Janowicz, who has final points to defend, will probably be his round 3 opponent. JJ needs a win over Adrian Mannarino/Santiago Giraldo to get there, but he better hope Rafa doesn’t play well to have a chance to match his amazing run last year.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will get a tough ask with Julien Benneteau or Kei Nishikori in round 2. Tsonga looked to be severely hobbled in Vienna two weeks ago and with World Tour finals on the line, it will be interesting to see how he is here.
Nishikori lost to Tsonga in Shanghai recently and he lost in the 2nd round of Basel himself.
Benneteau is just 1-3 after reaching the Kuala Lumpur final. In round 3 it should be Richard Gasquet on tap, another playing bidding for a WTF spot. Gasquet lost early in Basel and he will get Gulbis/Verdasco in round 2.
Stockholm/Valencia finalist and Paris defending champ David Ferrer will face Lukas Rosol or Jeremy Chardy in round 2. Gilles Simon will probably be his round 3 opponent, but Mahut/Dolgopolov are also options, and Mahut has an outside shot at a good run here. Simon is on a two match losing streak.
Tomas Berdych has a decent record in Paris, but he has lost two straight matches and will open with the difficult Monfils/Pospisil winner. I could see him suffering an early loss yet again. In round 3, it should be Milos Raonic, who has the hardest road to the World Tour Finals. He pretty much has to make the final to have a chance, and his bid will start against Denis Istomin/Robin Haase, and then Berdych/Pospisil/Monfils.
Novak Djokovic has won back to back titles and is on fire at the end of the season. He opens with Benoit Paire or up and coming French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert, while one of Jarkko Nieminen/John Isner/Michal Przysiezny wait on deck.’
Isner has been iffy this fall and seems a bit worn out while Nieminen is unpredictably talented at times, especially indoors.
Stan Wawrinka, who will probably qualify for the WTF, opens with Feliciano Lopez or qualifier Bernard Tomic, a couple of unpredictable players. Wawrinka fell in the opening round of Basel, but you have to think he will return to normal here and reach at least the third round. Nicolas Almagro, a Valencia semifinalist, will probably be his opponent. Nico needs a win against Dodig/Roger-Vasselin. Any of those 3 could make a surprise deep run.
Basel champion Del Potro will face Cilic/Sijsling in round 2 and one of Fabio Foginini/Michael Llodra/Grigor Dimitrov in round 3. Llodra did very well here last year reaching the semis and upset Richard Gasquet in Basel but his current form makes me think Dimitrov will get out of that section, Grigor is another player who could surprise if he is fresh enough after a lot of tennis in Stockholm and Basel.
Roger Federer, who made the Basel final, opens with Youzhny/Anderson, and with that win should pretty much clinch a WTF spot. Fed or Youzhny will face Andreas Seppi/Philipp Kohlschreiber or Tommy Haas in round 3. Haas lost to Kohlschreiber last week in Valencia.
Dark Horses: Nicolas Mahut and Mikhail Youzhny
Going with a couple this week because either or both could have deep runs. Mahut will get an out of form Simon after Dolgo and then a beatable and probably somewhat tired Ferrer, thus he has a chance at the quarters at least.
Youzhny faces Anderson and then Fed. You just never know with Fed right now, and probably Kohlschreiber after that for a spot in the quarters. I don’t see him beating Del Po after that, but it is possible.
Nadal d. Gasquet
Raonic d. Ferrer
Del Potro d. Youzhny
Djokovic d. Wawrinka
Nadal should cruise over Gasquet as usual given the 11-0 h2h.
Raonic has something to play for and Ferrer is out of sorts somewhat, though Raonic is 0-4 against Ferrer. They have not played this year and never indoors.
Del Po and Djokovic are in such good form that I do not expect them to lose either. Another Djokovic-Wawrinka match seems like it will be as fun as their two meetings this year, both won by Djokovic, both epics. Youzhny has never beaten Del Potro (0-4).
Nadal d. Raonic
Djokovic d. Del Potro
Nadal is 4-0 career against the Canadian number 1 including two wins against him this year, in a year where Rafa has pretty much destroyed all comers.
Djokovic won a great match against JMDP in Shanghai and they have a nice rivalry going. Both are in great form and Del Po can damage Djokovic when he is at his best, however I expect the fresher player to prevail.
Djokovic is 3-1 this year against Del Potro.
Djokovic d. Nadal
Nadal won two of the three hard court meetings this year in this epic 1 vs. 2 rivalry. However, Novak won the last meeting in Beijing and also has a career 2-1 indoor h2h edge.
Should be a great match with a slight edge to the Serb over the Spaniard.