Indications are the men’s regular season will go out with a proper bang this week at the Paris Tennis Masters. Today favorites Andy Roddick, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro and my man Gael Monfils all won rather handily to advance into the third round.
And with Rafael Nadal (who plays Florent Serra Wednesday), Roger Federer (meets Robin Soderling) and Andy Murray (to play Sam Querrey) still to play there’s a lot to look forward to this week in the final stop on the regular tour calendar. And I should add that it’s both nice and surprising to see the top players making the effort this week.
Eyeballing the draw, Nadal is really looking strong to reach the last four with only Monfils in his way. I’ll pick the surging Andy Murray is the favorite to face him in the semifinals. The Scot though will have to navigate possibly Del Potro or Nalbandian, who appear to be headed to yet another collision this month (they’ve split there two prior meets).
In the bottom half, if there’s one match I want to see its Roddick v. Djokovic, but we’re still a ways away from that tasty rematch of their US Open clash. Roddick, who destroyed Feliciano Lopez moments ago, will next have no easy match in the Gilles Simon-Igor Andreev winner. I like Simon there. And Djokovic will also likely have to deal with a Frenchman in JW Tsonga who faces Stepanek tomorrow.
In the last quarter Federer’s path couldn’t be much easier. Soderling’s tricky no doubt, but then a likely date with Marin Cilic followed by a showdown with James Blake in the quarters, neither of which should pose much of a threat for the Swiss who’s been flying high since his US Open title. And right now I actually like Rog here to come through for this title. The draw and what looks to be a slower surface than Madrid set up really well for Fed.
Of course there is also an ongoing race for the last three spots at the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai. And at the moment it’s still hard to bet against the current three favorites – Roddick, Del Potro and Simon – getting in. For that not to happen a Blake, Ferrer, Tsonga, Wawrinka or Nalbandian will have to go very deep in this field, and I really don’t see that happening. That said if there’s a long shot I’d take Nalbandian only who needs to defend his title and win Paris to harbor a chance, but heck, he could do it.
All five guys in chase are playing Wednesday, so by this time tomorrow the last eight could very well be set.
As for Djokovic and his mask, apparently it works. In addition to scaring me, it scared Dmitry Tursunov into submission today. I wonder if he’ll accessorize, or maybe play with it on. Oh the options…To be honest, though, for now I’m just going to act like I didn’t see it (but I did!), and I’ll leave it at that.
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