If I’m not mistaken we have just one more week left in the ATP regular season. Finally! And what a way to finish with the Paris Indoors Masters which features 15 of the Top 16 players competing – the lone absentee being American Andy Roddick who’s still rehabbing a knee injury.
What makes this event so interesting is that for 20% or so of the field this will be their last event of 2009. So hopefully the guys not heading to London will give their best effort in making their final stand, though I’m sure a few have simply had enough and are more interested in picking up a first round paycheck of 8,000 euros as they start their off season.
Roger Federer is of course the top seed with Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Juan Martin Del Potro in chase. The top five along with Roddick have already secured berths in the London finals. That leaves two spots left which should be determined by this time next week.
No. 7 Nikolay Davydenko figures to get in but No. 8 Fernando Verdasco will have to keep an eye in the rearview mirror on Robin Soderling, Fernando Gonzales and Jo Tsonga who are all hot on the Spaniard’s heels. And the draw did no favors for Fernando.
There’s also the No. 1 race to consider. Should Federer win tomorrow in Basel the Swiss will pad his lead over Nadal to 1,500 points meaning Rafa will likely have to win Paris or London to finish at the top for a second straight year. Eyeballing the math, should Federer win out in Paris he’ll clinch the No. 1 ranking regardless of Nadal’s result.
As for the aforementioned draw, in Federer’s section the World No. 1 will likely play French fav and my man, Gael Monfils, in the third round followed by Verdasco in the quarterfinals with Fernando’s London berth in the balance.
The second quarter is a real toss up because it’s so hard gauge how motivated the guys are this time of year. That said, I almost like Radek Stepanek to emerge past Murray who may be content after Valencia to take it easy and rest up for London. And I’m not sure where DelPo’s head is at so the indoors should suit the Czech just fine.
Worth noting, in his first match DelPo is likely to meet Marat Safin. This is Safin’s final tournament of his career so each match could be his very last, a fact I’m sure that will weigh on the mind of his opponents. Safin opens with a qualifier in the first round and I think he’ll beat DelPo should they meet.
In the third quadrant I think I’ll pick Soderling to get to the semifinals, beating Davydenko and then Djokovic along the way. Robin needs a strong result next week more than anyone else in that section.
And in the final quarter I think defending Jo Tsonga will ride the home crowd past fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon and then Rafa Nadal in the quarterfinals. However, Tsonga did just retire earlier this week with a left wrist injury so his health is a bit of a question mark. But if he’s okay I think he’ll get through.
As for a prediction on the final, hard to say because I think it’s going to be a crapshoot – just look at the history of finals! My guess is we won’t see an all Top five final as the top guys will be preserving their body with an eye toward London. But that shouldn’t mean we can’t get a French Open duplicate result, should it? We are in Paris after all.
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