2014 ATP Paris Preview, Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The season finale for all but the top 8 has arrived, as it’s time for Paris Bercy, the final Masters 1000 event of the season. Once again, I’ve greatly enjoyed covering all the action on the ATP World Tour this year for our readers, and we hope that you enjoyed it as well.
The 2015 season promises to be a special one and we hope you will keep browsing over to Tennis East Coast to get previews and recaps of all the action. Great things are in store for our site in the coming year.
BNP Paribas Masters
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
October 27-November 2, 2014
Prize Money: € 2,884,675
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Roger Federer (2)
3: Stan Wawrinka (4)
4: David Ferrer (5)
5: Tomas Berdych (6)
6: Kei Nishikori (7)
7: Milos Raonic (9)
8: Andy Murray (10)
The top 16 seeds receive first round byes. Only Rafa Nadal and Ernests Gulbis, both of whom are injured, and Marin Cilic, are out in terms of active top 20 players. Otherwise, this is a strong field for the season finale for all but the top 8.
First round matchups to watch:
Gael Monfils vs. Joao Sousa
Monfils and Sousa have split meetings this year, both of which took place on indoor hard courts, and Sousa recently got the best of Monfils in the Metz semifinals, winning 6 and 2. That said, the Portuguese number 1 is carrying a four match losing streak, and he’s slumping to end the season with three losses to lower ranked opponents in his last three matches. Monfils hasn’t played since Metz, but judging by his practice photos, he appears healthy and motivated for the final event of the season on home soil. Expect some acrobatic shot-making and a lot of rallying between these two. Monfils should win this, in 2, maybe 3 sets.
Tommy Robredo vs. Vasek Pospisil
Robredo just lost another heartbreaking final to Andy Murray in Valencia, and he may already be on the ropes physically before his first ever meeting with Pospisil. Vashy lost to Grigor Dimitrov in round 2 in Basel as expected, but he’s had a good year overall and this should be a competitive match where either player has a chance at victory. I’d give a slight edge to Pospisil given Robredo should enter this match fatigued.
Jerzy Janowicz vs. (Q)Sam Querrey
Janowicz has never lost to Querrey (2-0 career head to head including a win this year in the Winston-Salem semifinals), but the American is on a long winning streak at the moment. Querrey has won 16 straight, all at the challenger or ATP qualifying level as he returned to the challenger circuit to help build up some confidence and wins. Still, Querrey has not faced an ATP level opponent on hard courts since the US Open, and Janowicz is a big step up in terms of competition. The Pole has lost four of his last five matches, but all of those losses are to quality or in-form opponents, so he has nothing to be ashamed about. JJ had that shocking run to the Paris final in 2012 and he seems to enjoy playing in Bercy, so I have him winning this match in a slight upset over Querrey, who simply has not faced tough competition as of late.
Dominic Thiem vs. Alex Dolgopolov
This match should feature some exciting shot-making, as Thiem and Dolgo will meet for the first time. Dolgo has only won one match since returning from a knee injury, but that was over an in-form Gilles Simon in Valencia, and he does have a chance to get hot and play well here for the last tournament of the season. Thiem is still looking to build his ranking on European soil and he is just 1-4 since the US Open, as he seems to be wearing down this fall. I’d give Dolgo a slight edge here, but you never know what is going to happen when he steps foot on a tennis court. He could surrender a bagel or give a bagel, and Thiem also has dips and peaks in his performance.
Richard Gasquet vs. (Q)Denis Istomin
With Gasquet slumping, this match has some upset potential. Istomin has gone 5-3 since the US Open, with his only losses coming to top tier players Raonic, Dimitrov, and Federer, and he pushed the eventual Basel champion Federer to 3 sets. He beat two quality indoor opponents to qualify in Paris, Nicolas Mahut and Gilles Muller, without dropping a set.
Gasquet is just 2-3 since the US Open and has not played a match since Shanghai in what has been an overall poor season for him. I question what Gasquet’s motivation will be here at the end of the year, even on home soil, and an in-form Istomin should snatch the upset. The hard court h2h is 2-1 in favor of Gasquet, and Gasquet has two wins over Istomin this season, including once at the US Open.
Two time Paris Masters champ Novak Djokovic will open with Philipp Kohlschreiber or Edouard Roger-Vasselin, but most likely Kohli. With neither of those players likely to pose a threat to the world #1, look for Djokovic to meet Gael Monfils or John Isner in the round of 16. I favor Monfils over Isner because Isner has lost two straight matches and the h2h is almost even, 4-3 in favor of Isner since 2007. If Djokovic is in the mindset to conserve his energy before the World Tour Finals, Monfils could pose a threat to him, but Djokovic is 9-0 on hard courts career against the Frenchman and he won a great three setter with him this year in Toronto, so the advantage goes to Djokovic to reach the quarterfinals at least.
Andy Murray, who survived a grueling Valencia final and has won titles in consecutive weeks. That pretty much assures him a spot in the World Tour Finals after a strong late push, now that Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the tournament. He opens with Julien Benneteau or Rendy Lu, but most likely Benneteau. Murray may be worn down from grueling consecutive weeks of tennis and could mail it in in Paris, falling to Benneteau. If he wins that match, I still have him losing to Grigor Dimitrov in the round of 16. The Bulgarian has to reach the final in order to qualify for the World Tour Finals, and he will open his efforts against Pablo Cuevas or Leo Mayer. The Basel quarterfinalist, who fell to Federer, should win that, and then beat Murray/Benneteau/Lu in order to setup a meeting with Djokovic or Monfils in the quarters. Dimitrov has beaten Murray twice this year after losing to him three times prior, and given the fatigue and motivation factor, the match favors the Stockholm finalist Dimitrov by some margin.
Vienna finalist and Valencia semifinalist David Ferrer is also still in competition for the final World Tour Finals spot. He’ll need to put up a stirring performance against Lukas Rosol/David Goffin to get out of his first match. Given how well Goffin, a finalist in Basel, is playing, that still may not be enough, depending on the Belgian’s fatigue level. Ferrer, a former Paris champion, and Goffin are both hard working players and given they have both played a lot of tennis recently, I’m tipping Goffin to get through to the round of 16 in a bit of an upset. Goffin is rising while Ferrer is falling to some extent and the result should reflect that.
Below Ferrer/Goffin in the draw is Gilles Simon, who was playing very well before a shocking round 1 loss in Valencia, and also Donald Young, who qualified, and Fernando Verdasco. All three of these players can be dangerous. Simon and Verdasco have split h2h hard court meetings, but besides that freak Valencia result, Simon is playing the better of the two this Fall and on home soil I favor him to advance to the round of 16 and meet Goffin or Ferrer. Simon has never played Goffin and he beat Ferrer at the US Open this year, so I have Simon into the quarterfinals as a bit of a dark horse.
Kei Nishikori is at the bottom of the top half of the draw. He opens with Robredo/Pospisil, and then should meet Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the round of 16, assuming Tsonga defeats Jurgen Melzer/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (two veterans who are playing poorly right now). Nishikori took some time off after Shanghai and should out-hustle Robredo/Pospisil, while the former Bercy champ Tsonga looks to find form having lost two straight and also not having played since Tokyo. Nishikori beat Tsonga in Paris last year and is 3-1 against him overall, so it should be Nishikori in the quarterfinals.
Shanghai and Basel champ Roger Federer, who also has a Paris masters title to his name, will open with a Frenchman, either Kenny De Schepper or Valencia semifinalist Jeremy Chardy in round 2. Federer, even if slightly fatigued, should cruise into the round of 16 and crush Ivo Karlovic again just like he did in the Basel semifinals. Karlovic opens with Frenchman Lucas Pouille, and then will face a slumping Fabio Fognini in round 2, who is unlikely to put in much effort into making the round of 16. Chardy shocked Federer this year on clay in Rome, but Federer beat him on hard courts in 3 sets in Brisbane at the start of the season, and he should avenge that Rome loss.
Milos Raonic, a quarterfinalist in Basel, will need to beat Jack Sock again in order to reach the round of 16 in Paris. Sock, who qualified, faces Valencia quarterfinalist Pablo Andujar, who upset Tomas Berdych there in round 1. Sock lost to Andujar at the US Open, but I have the result reversed in Paris and Raonic should win his seventh consecutive meeting against the American in what would also be his fifth win this season against him. In the round of 16, Raonic could face Moscow champ Roberto Bautista Agut, who has had a strong season but gave a walkover in Valencia, or the Gasquet/Istomin winner. If RBA happens to not be 100%, Istomin will have a nice shot at a good run, but as it stands it should be Raonic over Bautista for the quarterfinals. It would be their first head-to-head meeting.
Stan Wawrinka is really struggling at the moment, and I have him losing to the Thiem/Dolgopolov winner, no matter which of those players wins that round 1 matchup. Wawrinka has lost four matches in a row and with World Tour Finals action and the Davis Cup final looming, he may be looking to conserve himself for that.
Thiem/Dolgopolov/Wawrinka should meet Kevin Anderson or perhaps Mikhail Youzhny/Santiago Giraldo in the round of 16. Giraldo and Youzhny are both struggling right now, and Anderson is 2-0 career against Giraldo. Since Kev made quarters in Valencia and also beat Youzhny in Paris last year, he should be safe for the round of 16 where I have him beating Dolgopolov as he did earlier this year in Acapulco in 3 sets. The overall h2h between them is 1-1. Anderson also beat Thiem in Tokyo recently for a 2-0 overall h2h against him and he beat Wawrinka in Toronto earlier this year.
Former Paris champ Tomas Berdych is still in the race for the World Tour Finals along with Ferrer, Raonic and Dimitrov. After winning Stockholm, he played poorly in Valencia and will look to recover against Pierre-Hugues Herbert or Adrian Mannarino. Both French wild cards have played well indoors and Herbert played well in Paris last year. That said, a motivated Berdych should cruise to the quarterfinals over Feliciano Lopez/Sam Querrey/Jerzy Janowicz. Lopez should be his most likely opponent, though Janowicz is also a possibility. It’s a toss-up as to who makes the round of 16 among those three players.
Djokovic d. Dimitrov
Nishikori d. Simon
Berdych d. Anderson
Federer d. Raonic
Strange things tend to happen in Paris but Djokovic has beaten Dimitrov twice this year, including recently dominating him in Beijing, so he has to be the favorite. Simon and Nishikori have never met, but Nishikori is the superior player and the superior ball striker so he should advance. Berdych and Anderson have met multiple times every season since 2012, but Berdych has always come out on top because he is superior at the type of game Anderson plays. Raonic has a serious shot against Fed, but given the h2h favors the Swiss 6-0 including 2-0 this season, I’m not going to pick it.
Nishikori d. Djokovic
Berdych d. Federer
Nishikori beat Djokovic at the USO and he has won the last two meetings against the world number one, though they have only met twice since 2011 surprisingly enough. Given that h2h though, including a win indoors, and how well Nishikori has been playing all year, and especially in the second half of the season, I feel an upset win in a Masters tournament would be well deserved for him, and I’m going out in a limb and picking him to prevail and reach the final. I’m picking Berdych over Federer because Federer has World Tour Finals and the Davis Cup final coming up and Berdych has seven career wins against Federer. The h2h is still in Federer’s favor but Berdych has proven he can beat Fed and they played a 3 set final in Dubai this year that Federer won. Given Berdych wants to make the World Tour Finals, and Federer has every reason to conserve his energy, such a result wouldn’t shock me at all.
Nishikori d. Berdych
Nishikori deserves a Masters title and I believe he will get one in Paris, it’s not an odds on pick but Paris, being at the end of the season, often yields underdog and breakthrough results, and given Nishikori is 3-0 on hard courts against Berdych he should be the favorite. I’d also pick him against Federer.
The World Tour finals participants should be Djokovic, Federer, Wawrinka, Nishikori, Cilic, Berdych, Murray, and Raonic. I feel Raonic will do better than Ferrer this week and that will secure him the final spot, with Murray and Berdych qualifying as well, and Dimitrov falling short unless he can upset Djokovic.