2015 ATP Paris Masters Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
It’s the final Masters tournament of the year, and the final ATP tournament for all but the top 8 (who have the World Tour Finals next week in London). With nothing to lose and everything to gain heading into next season, we’ll see who can put on a show in Paris, and who is ready for the season to be over. This tournament also concludes the European fall indoor swing, as the 2015 season draws to a close.
BNP Paribas Masters
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
November 2-November 8, 2015
Prize Money: €3,288,530
Top 8 seeds (top 16 seeds receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Andy Murray (2)
3: Roger Federer (3)
4: Stan Wawrinka (4)
5: Tomas Berdych (5)
6: Kei Nishikori (6)
7: Rafael Nadal (7)
8: David Ferrer (8)
Only Milos Raonic and Tommy Robredo are notably missing out on this years BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
First round matchups to watch:
Embed from Getty Images
Benoit Paire vs. Gael Monfils
Paire reached an ATP final (Tokyo), and a challenger final in France post US Open, and is playing some of the best tennis of his career, though he lost round 2 in Valencia. It’s been a rather forgettable year for fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils. Monfils did recently reach the semis in Vienna though and both of these crowd pleasing entertainers will have plenty of support in Paris. It’s their first ever meeting and I’m going with Paire’s good form to help him win this battle.
Fabio Fognini vs. Bernard Tomic
Fabio Fognini has continued his inconsistent play this Fall. The Italian has an ATP semifinal and an ATP quarterfinal post US Open, but was stunned by journeyman Mischa Zverev in Valencia. Tomic has crafted a solid season overall and posted a Quarterfinal in Shanghai recently, but he’s also lost three straight matches and is in the midst of a slump. Either of these guys could bomb out and lose easily, but I have Fognini finding the touch and control needed to get through this match.
Fernando Verdasco vs. Borna Coric
Two players looking for form in the final tournament of the season. Verdasco hasn’t won consecutive matches since Wimbledon as the Spanish veteran has been in a sharp decline as he ages. Coric is a rising youngster but he’s also suffered three consecutive routine defeats. Coric has a bright future ahead, while Verdasco is going to struggle to stay in the top 50 much longer, and thus I have the Croatian edging through.
Defending, and three-time Paris champ Novak Djokovic looks to be in unstoppable form at the moment. Djokovic is 72-5 this season and just one of those losses came at the hands of a non top 4 player. A winner of the US Open, and two tournaments on the Asian swing (Beijing and Shanghai), along with Masters tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo, and Rome, look for Djokovic to blitz past Thomaz Bellucci, and the Paire/Monfils winner or Gilles Simon for a spot in the quarterfinals. Bellucci opens with a slumping Teymuraz Gabashvili, while the Paire/Monfils winner faces Simon. Simon was a quarterfinalist in Stockholm and a finalist in Metz, so his good form on indoor hard, especially in France, should help him through, before Djokovic buzzsaws him.
Two former Paris champions are likely to face off for a spot in the quarterfinals. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga opens with Pierre-Hugues Herbert or Moscow and Valencia finalist Roberto Bautista Agut, while Tomas Berdych will face Ivo Karlovic or Edouard Roger-Vasselin. The home Frenchman Herbert could well upset RBA, given RBA looked exhausted in Valencia, but Metz champion and Shanghai finalist Tsonga should win out regardless of who he faces. Berdych faces the tough task of Vienna and Basel quarterfinalist Karlovic round 2. Karlovic leads Berdych 3-1 in the indoor h2h, but Berdych won in Stockholm and should ride his good form to the third round.
Both Tsonga and Berdych are in good form, but Berdych has the World Tour Finals looming next week, and thus I have Tsonga breaking their 2-2 h2h tie on indoor hard, and reaching the quarterfinals to face Djokovic. Being a home favorite should also aid his chances.
Stan Wawrinka captured the Tokyo title and has a large h2h edge over Fognini, thus I have him winning his opening match (same holds true against Tomic), and then beating Feliciano Lopez or Jack Sock for a spot in the quarterfinals. Lopez gets a bye and he was a finalist in Kuala Lumpur. The red hot Sock opens with a struggling Viktor Troicki. Sock reached the semis in Basel, a final in Stockholm, and before that the quarterfinals in Beijing, as he has boosted his ranking inside the top 30. The young American with a gifted forehand could struggle against the serve and volleyer Lopez due to fatigue however, and Lopez also has an indoor h2h win in Memphis two years ago. No matter how this tournament goes, it’s been a career best season for Jack Sock. Wawrinka is 2-1 indoors vs. Lopez.
Rafael Nadal has played surprisingly well after an early exit at the US Open. He comes off a close finals loss in Basel to Roger Federer, and reached the final in Beijing and the semis in Shanghai as well. The question is, will Rafa have anything left in the tank for Paris. We’ll find out first against either Lukas Rosol or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, both Rosol and Garcia-Lopez are recent indoor hard court ATP quarterfinalists, but GGL is in slightly better form, and I see him winning that match before falling to Nadal. Shanghai and Vienna quarterfinalist Kevin Anderson is a step up in competition however. Big Kev will need to beat either a struggling Dominic Thiem or pedestrian Frenchman Adrian Mannarino in his first match, but I have him winning his first ever h2h meeting with Rafa after that (0-2 h2h). Nadal will want to rest up for the World Tour finals next week, and Anderson’s serve is dangerous on indoor hard courts.
Andy Murray has never made it past the quarterfinal stage in Paris, and he should be leery of the Coric/Verdasco winner in round 2, especially since Coric beat him in Dubai this year. The Shanghai semifinalist has the World Tour Finals, and the Davis Cup final coming up, and I wouldn’t blame him for making an early exit. With that said, his Davis Cup rival David Goffin would face off with him round 3, presuming Goffin can beat Nicolas Mahut/Dusan Lajovic in round 2. Goffin reached the quarterfinals in Basel so he should get to round 3, and if Murray is committed, I have Murray beating him for the quarterfinal spot.
Kei Nishikori has endured a difficult fall campaign, and doesn’t play a lot of matches on indoor hard, thus the #6 seed is susceptible to an early defeat, something one of two Frenchmen could hand him at home in round 2 as Jeremy Chardy opens with Lucas Pouille. Pouille has two ATP quarterfinals this fall (St. Petersburg and Moscow), while Chardy has one in Stockholm. Look for the young Pouille to post a bit of a breakthrough and defeat Chardy, and then upset Nishikori for a spot in the third round. I just don’t see Kei being able to give his best this week. Richard Gasquet, a Stockholm and Basel semifinalist, should be the beneficiary of the draw opening up. Gasquet needs only to defeat Metz semifinalist Martin Klizan/Leo Mayer, and then Pouille/Chardy or Nishikori to reach the quarters. Gasquet has a great draw at home he can do some damage in.
Embed from Getty Images
Basel champion Roger Federer also has World Tour Finals action looming, but the Swiss maestro should find his way past either Andreas Seppi or Pablo Cuevas in round 2. Cuevas reached the quarters in Valencia and Seppi is ice cold right now, so I have Cuevas winning that one and falling to Federer. John Isner should face him round 3, as Aljaz Bedene/Marcel Granollers aren’t difficult round 2 opponents. Isner posted a quarterfinal in Beijing but his pedestrian recent form suggests Federer has the upper hand and will reach the quarterfinals.
David Ferrer has taken the title in Paris before and he put together a magnificent Fall campaign to secure his place in the World Tour Finals. The Spanish veteran showed little signs of decline as he took titles in Kuala Lumpur and Vienna, along with a semifinal in Beijing. With his round 2 opponent, either Jiri Vesely or Alexandr Dolgopolov, struggling mightily, he should get through to round 3. Dolgopolov is on an atrocious seven match losing streak and isn’t healthy at the moment. Marin Cilic should pose a threat to Ferrer in the third round. Cilic has two quarterfinals, a semifinal, and an ATP title this fall as he’s been quite busy on tour. He’s likely to face a struggling Grigor Dimitrov round 2, and with Dimitrov finishing up a poor season, Cilic has the edge. I also have Cilic beating Ferrer as Ferrer has the tour finals to think about next week.
Dark Horse: Ivo Karlovic and Borna Coric
Embed from Getty Images
Karlovic can be lethal indoors with his huge serve and has a chance to oust both Berdych and Tsonga to get a shot at Djokovic. Coric could take advantage of Murray’s mind being elsewhere and breakthrough in the bottom half of the draw.
Djokovic d. Tsonga
Wawrinka d. Anderson
Gasquet d. Murray
Federer d. Cilic
Djokovic is surprisingly 0-4 against Tsonga on indoor hard, but given their recent meeting in Shanghai I see him moving that h2h to 1-4. Wawrinka lost to Anderson last year in Paris but I see him getting his revenge given their recent US Open meeting. Gasquet has beaten Murray in Paris before (2007), and I see him stopping him once more in the quarterfinals. Federer should be too smooth for Cilic (5-1 h2h, previous Paris win).
Djokovic d. Wawrinka
Federer d. Gasquet
Federer dominates Gasquet in the h2h 15-2, and Djokovic has looked to be unstoppable as of late, thus I see them colliding in the final.
Djokovic d. Federer
With Djokovic in his current form it’s hard to see Federer being able to knock him off.