The BNP Paribas Masters this week in Paris will determine the final three qualifying spots at the year-end ATP Masters event, and offer an update on the physical status of some of the top players. Will world No. 1 and No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic actually play after apparently re-injuring his shoulder last week in Basel? Was world No. 2 Rafael Nadal’s pull-out a good move for his year-end Masters preparation? Is Andy Murray still hot, and can Roger Federer parlay his Basel title last week into wins against the Big 3?
Federer and Murray have never won the Paris-indoor. The Swiss’ best effort was a semifinal last year, and Murray has exited in the quarters three times.
“It’s been a difficult decision to take, but I understand that it is what I need to do right now to prepare well for the end of this season and also for 2012,” said Nadal, who has also never won the Paris-indoor, on pulling from the event.
Joining the 2009 champion Djokovic, Murray and Federer among the seeds, all receiving byes in the first round, are David Ferrer, 2005 champ Tomas Berdych, 2008 champ Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Mardy Fish, Gael Monfils, Nicolas Almagro, Gilles Simon, Janko Tipsarevic, Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Roddick, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Viktor Troicki and Richard Gasquet. Ferrer and Fish are among six seeds who have career losing records in Bercy.
Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Federer and Ferrer have already qualified for the year-end Masters, and Berdych, Tsonga and Fish are the front-runners for the three remaining spots. According to the ATP, five additional players also have a shot at the three spots: Almagro, del Potro, Tipsarevic, Simon, and Monfils.
The ATP reported over the weekend that Berdych had qualified for the Masters, then later redacted the announcement.
The Masters wanna-bees will fall to the wayside quickly this week, as most are involved in heavyweight early-round clashes, including (9) Almagro vs. Davydenko 2nd rd., (14) Dolgopolov vs. Youzhny 2nd rd., (12) del Potro vs. the Wawrinka-John Isner winner 2nd rd., (8) Monfils vs. the Michael Llodra-Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez winner 2nd rd., (17) Fish vs. the Radek “The Worm” Stepanek-Florian Mayer winner 2nd rd., and (5) Berdych vs. the Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco-Marin Cilic winner 2nd rd.
Other early-round clashes of interest include (1) Djokovic vs. Kei Nishikori in a Basel rematch 3rd rd., (4) Ferrer vs. former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero in an all-Spanish 2nd rd., (3) Federer vs. indoor upset specialist Dmitry Tursunov 2nd rd., (13) Roddick vs. Milos “Big Baby” Raonic 2nd rd., and (2) Murray vs. the hot-handed Marcel Granollers 2nd rd.
Last year’s champion Robin Soderling remains on the sidelines due to injury. The unseeded Davydenko (2006) is the fourth of four returning champions in the field.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
Former No. 1 and Swedish tennis commentator Mats Wilander says the WTA’s on-court coaching rule contributes to world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki winning smaller tournaments but not being able to win Grand Slam events. Wozniacki gets coached on-court during matches at WTA events by her father. “To be honest, the mistake that she is doing is that she is getting different treatment on the WTA Tour than she does at the Grand Slams because of the on-court coaching. You have to look at the obvious reasons. I’m not in favor of it for her because she seems lost compared to when she’s getting coached.”…What was your favorite part about the WTA Championships? Maria pulling out injured? The confident-shattered Li Na winning one game in a match? The weird WTA anti-grunting non-stance with no teeth? Tennis Channel’s Ted Robinson trying so hard to make it interesting and important? Renee Stubbs’ bad ‘features’ around Istanbul? Wozniacki failing to get out of the round robin but still clinching the year-end No. 1 rankings? The green ball against the backdrop of a green court on TV?…Switzerland has chosen to host the United States on an indoor clay court in the first-round series of the Davis Cup to be played on Feb. 10-12, 2012, at the 7,200-capacity Forum Fribourg arena…The ATP announced that Moet & Chandon was named the official champagne of men’s tennis…Legend Roy Emerson says the ATP and ITF are dropping the ball in promoting doubles: “I think it’s a real shame that the top players don’t play doubles as well,” the 74-year-old Emerson told the Sport Review. “I would like the ATP and the Grand Slam tournaments in particular to make it mandatory for the players to play both singles and doubles. In my day the top players competed in both but [Bjorn] Borg decided not to play doubles, others followed and then the kids who idolized Borg chose not to play doubles because he didn’t. Also, most players now stay at the baseline and there is very little movement to the net. There was more touch and finesse about the game when more players played the doubles whereas now it’s about power and not as attractive. Money speaks, and if the prize money was upped with a season-ending prize of $1 million for the player with the highest combined singles and doubles ranking I reckon you would see more of the top players competing in doubles. The ATP needs to make an effort to get the doubles game back, to educate people as to how good it is.” — It’s all Borg’s fault!…Jurgen Melzer pulled from Basel with a back injury…From David Hancock writing for CBS News on the WTA Championships: “Note to self: Try to be excited about this. Stop yawning. It’s not [Petra Kvitova’s] fault she has zero star power although she could help her cause by not shrieking after every winning point. 2012 may be the last year on the tour for the current stars. Serena, 30, and Venus, 31, say they’re sticking around to play in the 2012 Olympics. Hard to see them playing after that, particularly with their increasingly fragile bodies. Ditto for Clijsters, who wants to get back on the mommy track. Smells like the end of a golden era to me. If I worked in the WTA marketing division, I would be sweating bullets to figure out how to keep interest in the game with the B team.” — Or, getting those resumes back into circulation.
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