The ATP’s regular season comes to a close next week in Paris and assembling for the finale are nine of the Top 10 players, missing only Rafael Nadal. But the tournament could be without defending champion Roger Federer who has hinted that he may also withdraw to rest up for the year-end London Finals next month.
If Federer does play he’ll be the top seed in a tough section that will see him potentially face tricky Frenchman Gilles Simon (or Marcos Baghdatis) in his opener, then Kei Nishikori followed by either Tomas Berdych and Richard Gasquet who’ll need to do well In Paris to qualify for London.
Federer is seeded to meet Andy Murray in the semifinals. The Scot withdrew from Basel but returns for Paris and he’s been rewarded with an excellent draw. Murray could meet Marin Cilic in his third round then he’s seeded to face Janko Tipsarevic in the quarterfinals. I think Murray should get through if he’s feeling on par. And he should be because it’s a great opportunity for him to gain points if he has hopes to make a push for No. 1 next year.
In the bottom half, French favorite and 2010 winner JW Tsonga and David Ferrer are the two studs in the third quarter. Tsonga, who just hired ex-Monfils/Hewitt coach Roger Rasheed, could face countryman Julien Benneteau in his opener, then Nicolas Almagro before Ferrer. Tsonga gets the edge but Ferrer won’t be easy.
Second seed and former champion Novak Djokovic is my pick for the tournament and he’s embedded in a hellacious section in the bottom of the draw where the Serb is joined by Juan Martin Del Potro, John Isner and Milos Raonic. Novak will open with the Sam Querrey/Fernando Verdasco winner before Raonic and then either Del Potro or Isner. Not easy, especially indoors, but I think he does it.
Given the uncertainty with Federer, I think we are looking at a Djokovic-Berdych final. And since it is the final event of the season for about 80% players in the draw, it’s always interesting to see how much fight is left in some of the lower ranked guys when they get behind. And that could be true of guys like Federer and Murray and even to an extent Djokovic who all may have little to play for in terms of the 2012 season only, at Paris. Though Novak would be advised to add some cushion to his lead at No. 1 and keep pace with Federer’s results in the tournament heading into London where the Swiss does so well.
As for the ATP London race, two spots remain after Nadal withdrew. Tsonga has big edge on the contenders so he’ll get in leaving one spot. Tipsarevic is next and really unless someone like Gasquet, Monaco, Almagro or Raonic reach the semifinals he’ll be in as well.
Matches for this final week begin on Monday.
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