Things went pretty smoothly for the top players today at the Paris Indoors Masters. The final Thursday of the ATP regular season saw veterans Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray who blasted Grigor Dimitrov all win rather decisively.
Australian Open Stan Wawrinka, however, fell to Kevin Anderson in a final set breaker. Not a terrible loss – losing to a big man like Anderson indoors – but Wawrinka really hasn’t been much of a factor since last April when he won Monte Carlo, also his last appearance in a final.
“I will have time to rest and practice a lot just to be ready for [London],” lamented Wawrinka. “We need to be fresh and we need to be ready and we need play well from the start and try to get some victories to [advance]. It’s a round robin.
“The good thing is I have experience,” Wawrinka added. “I’ve played this tournament before. I will just concentrate on what I’m doing, and I hope I will be fit to be there.”
In case you are wondering, when Stan’s Australian Open title points come off he’ll likely drop out of the Top 10! Of course he can buffer such a drop in London, but the odds are clearly against hi,
Meanwhile, Djokovic and Federer, who are both battling for the No. 1 ranking, have looked good through two matches. Djokovic started quick against Gael Monfils, then hung on in the end as the Frenchman picked up his game late for a 6-4, 7-6 win.
Federer was business-like beating French qualifier Lucas Pouille 6-4, 6-4. The Swiss has now won his last 14 matches (37 of his last 40) but with Djokovic making the quarters, he’ll have to win Paris to be the top seed in London. First though, attention will be on Milos Raonic tomorrow after the Canadian beat Roberto Bautista Agut to stay alive for London.
“It’s good that I didn’t spend too much energy today,” Federer said. “I’m into the tournament. I think after five sets you more or less know where you’re standing. Milos has a lot in his racquet. I mean, the way he serves, the way he plays after that. It’s a tough match, but I’m looking forward to it. There is a possible semi-final after that for both of us and also the London issue, so it’s more fun.”
If Milos loses to Federer, Ferrer gets that final London berth – Raonic has to go a round further in Paris than Ferrer to take the last spot from the Spaniard.
Ferrer, the 2012 Paris champ, will have his own hands full with Kei Nishikori. I’ve called Kei a more offensive version of Ferrer and with the way he’s been playing – he beat a tough JW Tsonga today – I make him the favorite against David.
Also tomorrow, poor Kevin Anderson. After eliminating Wawrinka his reward is his true boogeyman – somewhat fitting that it’s Halloween – in Tomas Berdych. The Czech has dominated Anderson winning all 11 of their meetings.
And in the marquee match Friday, Djokovic collides with the red hot Andy Murray. Murray has won three titles in the last month or so, so he’s playing his best tennis in well over a year. But with Murray having locked up a London berth as of today, the motivation rests with the Djokovic who’ll want to keep that distance in the No. 1 race.
Djokovic leads Murray 14-8 (6 of the last 7) winning all three this year going 7-1 in sets. So I like Papa Novak here.
Tennis Channel has live coverage starting at 10am ET.
FRIDAY PARIS SCHEDULE
COURT CENTRAL start 2:00 pm
 T Berdych (CZE) vs  K Anderson (RSA)
Not Before 3:30 pm
 M Raonic (CAN) vs  R Federer (SUI)
Not Before 7:30 pm
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs  A Murray (GBR)
Not Before 8:30 pm
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  K Nishikori (JPN)
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