In a rare treat, the London final eight participants are all part of the Paris quarterfinals, giving us a glimpse of perhaps what’s to come next week.
In the last match of the night, Rafael Nadal clinched the historic octet with a tough 7-6, 6-4 victory over Jerzy Janowicz.
At 22, Janowicz with his array of shots is a wondrous talent. Credit, though, to Nadal, who doesn’t play his best indoors, for fighting through the big 2012 Paris finalist scratching out the win in the end.
Earlier, Roger Federer dismantled Phil Kohlschreiber in straight sets. Left for dead a few weeks ago in Shanghai, once again Federer seems to be finding his form during the indoor season. Can it last?
The hottest players this fall had to craft comebacks. Novak Djokovic dropped the first in a breaker before wearing down John Isner in three sets, and Juan Martin Del Potro also went the distance to take out Baby Fed Grigor Dimitrov.
Newly minted London qualifiers Richard Gasquet and Stan Wawrinka were winners along with Tomas Berdych who ended the London race and the hopes of Milos Raonic behind a 20-minute 15-13 first set tiebreak win.
Now on to the quarterfinals matches.
Stan Wawrinka v Novak Djokovic
They meet again. After Novak’s big win in New York I like the Serb again here. Djokovic’s won 14 straight matches and with Stan now secured into London for a first time, I think he’ll let down a bit, and that’s something you can’t do against Djokovic who still can steal the No. 1 ranking from Nadal.
“Whenever we play each other it’s long exchanges, [a] very tough match mentally [and] physically,” Djokovic said. “But I’m ready for it. I have been playing well and obviously he has been enjoying probably his best season.”
Both their prior two clashes this year went five sets, but this one won’t go the distance. Novak’s been rolling and that roll continues.
The pick: Djokovic in two
Roger Federer v Juan Martin Del Potro
In another rematch, Federer and Del Potro will meet for a second time in as many weeks. Del Potro is the hot man – he’s won 15 of his last 16 with two titles – and he’s beaten Roger in their last three including in the Basel final last week.
“I have an idea of my tactics, my game plan,” said Federer about playing Delpo who he leads
13-15 13-5 overall. “Now it’s important to be able to actually do it on the court.
“It’s an important match for me now,” said Federer. “I need to take my opportunities.”
Federer’s playing better but I think Del Potro gets through this one. That said, it wouldn’t surprise at all if Roger ran the Argentine off the court here if the big guy is feeling some fatigue. That’s the question mark here.
The pick: Del Potro in three
Rafael Nadal v Richard Gasquet
This is a classic mismatch. Nadal has the heart of a lion. Gasquet. Well, we know. Richard has the backhand to neutralize of of Nadal’s wicked forehand and he’s playing in Paris. But Rafa’s closing in on No. 1 and I don’t think Richard mentally has it in him here. Not even with the pressure off of a London qualification. And the 11-0 advantage (17 straight sets) for the Spaniard makes this even easier.
The pick: Nadal in two
David Ferrer v Tomas Berdych
Defending champion David Ferrer got a little lucky last year in Paris with the early exits and withdrawals from the top guys. This time around no such luck for David with a stack quarterfinal.
Berdych is a tough out especially indoors and even though he’s playing better of late, I’m still not convinced Ferrer is ready to rumble with the upper tier. David’s won six of nine in their series, but in their first meeting this year…
The pick: Berdych in two
Tennis Channel will have the coverage live all day.
The London groupings will be out later this weekend once the rankings are fully settled which might not happen until Sunday. Match there begin on Monday.
FRIDAY PARIS SCHEDULE
COURT CENTRAL start 2:00 pm
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs  N Djokovic (SRB)
 R Federer (SUI) vs  J Del Potro (ARG)
Not Before 7:30 pm
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  R Gasquet (FRA)
Not Before 8:30 pm
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  T Berdych (CZE)
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