Paris Masters previews and predictions

There could be a changing of the guard at this week’s Masters 1000 event in Parcis-Bercy. That’s right; Andy Murray finally has a chance to become the No. 1 player in the world. Murray, who has won six of his last eight tournaments, will overtake Novak Djokovic at the top spot if the second-ranked Scot captures the Paris title and beats someone other than Djokovic in the final. Murray will also reach No. 1 if he finishes runner-up and Djokovic fails to make the semis. The last two spots in the World Tour Finals are also up for grabs, likely coming down to Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, Tomas Berdych, and David Goffin.

BNP Paribas Masters

Where: Paris, France
Surface: Indoor hard
Points
: 1000
Prize money
: 3,748,925 Euros

Top seed: Novak Djokovic
Defending champion: Novak Djokovic

Draw analysis: The top quarter of the Paris bracket will play a big part in determining the No. 1 ranking in the world and the last two places in London. Cilic and Goffin are on a collision course for what would be a huge third-round showdown, with the winner likely to face Djokovic in the quarters. Goffin had been leading Cilic in the 2016 race until last week, when the Belgian got a bad draw in Basel and lost to Juan Martin Del Potro in the second round before watching Cilic eventually capture the title. The Croat, however, may have to open in Paris against dangerous countryman Ivo Karlovic. Djokovic’s second-rounder, meanwhile, is likely to come in the form of a date with an in-form Gilles Muller.

At the bottom of the draw, Murray and Berdych find themselves in the same section. Needless to say that is good news for the Scot and bad news for the Czech. Of course, it is hard to see Berdych even making it to the quarters. He is on a four-match losing streak and will almost certainly face consistent baseline grinders in each of his first two matches (Joao Sousa in the second round and either Roberto Bautista Agut or Gilles Simon in the last 16). Murray, who is perfect on the fall swing with titles in Beijing, Shanghai, and Vienna, should coast past a struggling Fernando Verdasco before running into either Lucas Pouille or Feliciano Lopez.

The other two quarters appear to be completely up for grabs. Stan Wawrinka and Dominic Thiem are the top two seeds in the second section and one of the other seeds is David Ferrer, who could be dealing with an ankle injury after being forced to give Murray a walkover in last week’s Vienna semifinals. Americans Jack Sock and John Isner may be able to take advantage. Sock, who has been in fine form in both singles and doubles this fall, could derail Thiem’s London plans in the second round.

This past week’s two runner-ups, Kei Nishikori (Basel) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Vienna), could go head-to-head in the Paris third round. Nishikori, though, may have a tough opener on his hands against Viktor Troicki. The 28th-ranked Serb upset Rafael Nadal at the Shanghai Masters and is coming off a quarterfinal showing in Vienna (lost to Ferrer 7-5 in the third). Milos Raonic has a favorable draw, but he has been in a considerable slump since the U.S. Open and could be vulnerable against Moscow champion Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round.

If the seeds hold to form all the way to the semis, which is unlikely at best in just about every fall tournament and even more improbable this week based on the relative slumps of the No. 1, No. 3, and No. 4 seeds, Djokovic would face Wawrinka and Murray would go up against Raonic.

Second-round upset alerts: Jack Sock over (6) Dominic Thiem. The first half of the 2016 campaign was nothing short of amazing for Thiem. The second half? Not so much. Having overloaded his schedule to a drastic extent, the 23-year-old Austrian completely hit the wall starting at Wimbledon. His London status is suddenly on thin ice mostly due to a disappointing 5-5 record in his last 10 matches dating back to the U.S. Open. Sock, on the other hand, advanced to the Shanghai quarterfinals and finished runner-up to Del Potro in Stockholm.

Joao Sousa over (7) Tomas Berdych. Berdych looked like a lock to qualify for the World Tour Finals when he made a run to the Wimbledon semifinals. Of course, when hasn’t Berdych looked like a lock for London? After all, he has made six consecutive appearances in the year-end championship. But the seventh seed has been a disaster of late and is out of the top 10 for the first time since he reached the Wimbledon final in 2010. Berdych has lost his opening match at three straight tournaments, so he is clearly feeling the pressure.

John Isner over (15) David Ferrer. This has never been a great matchup for Isner (1-7 lifetime against the Spaniard), but at 34 years old this is not the same Ferrer that had been on display in previous seasons. He is struggling down at No. 16 in the rankings and is obviously a physical question mark, as well, based on what happened last week in Vienna. Isner has slumped in 2016, as well, but he is coming off a decent quarterfinal performance in Vienna. A red-hot Mischa Zverev would also have a good chance against Ferrer if he topples Isner in round one.

Hot: Andy Murray, Lucas Pouille, Grigor Dimitrov, Gilles Muller, Ivo Karlovic, Mischa Zverev, Viktor Troicki, Paolo Lorenzi, Pablo Carreno Busta

Cold: Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Tomas Berdych, Martin Klizan, John Isner, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Benoit Paire

Quarterfinal predictions: Marin Cilic over Grigor Dimitrov, Jack Sock over John Isner, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga over Milos Raonic, and Andy Murray over Roberto Bautista Agut

Semifinals: Cilic over Sock and Murray over Tsonga

Final: Murray over Cilic

32 Comments on Paris Masters previews and predictions

  1. “Cilic and Goffin are on a collision course for what would be a huge third-round showdown, with the winner likely to face Djokovic in the quarters”

    Well I jut hope that you don’t compare Djokovic to Dimitrov.

    Don’t you?

    Or do you.

    No you did.

    First you say “likely to face Djokovic in the quarters” and then you predict Cilic to meet Dimitrov in the quarters.

    Ok. Good.

    #NeverGetsOld

  2. QF:
    Cilic over Nole
    CryBaby over Sock
    Nishi over PCB
    Murray over Simon

    SF:
    Cilic over CB
    Murray over Nishi

    F:
    Murray over Cilic

  3. I also picked Grigor to pick Nole. If Djokovic shows the form he presented in Shanghai – for example against Zverev or Bautista Agut it’s gonna be a two-setter for the Bulgarian. But I guess you never know with this guy. He might be really motivated to stay at no.1

    QFs:
    Cilic over Dimitrov in 3 – Loved what Marin showed in Basel, hope’s gonna play in WTF as he can do some serious damage there
    Sock over Wawrinka in 2 – Maybe I’m wrong with Sock yet again, although Stan played so poorly in Basel.. I’m not even sure that Sock gets through Thiem and Gasquet but I’m gonna stick with that pick
    Tsonga over Carreno Busta in 2 – Don’t really think Raonic gets to the quarters after his loss to Berankis in Basel 1R and Jo was amazing in Vienna
    Murray over Simon in 2 – Simon really impressed in the last few weeks, current form he’s gonna crush Berdych but Murray is of course too much

    SFs
    Cilic over Sock in 2
    Murray over Tsonga in 2

    Final
    Murray over Cilic in 3

    Muzza for the no.1!

  4. “Murray, who has won six of his last eight tournaments, will overtake Novak Djokovic at the top spot if the second-ranked Scot captures the Paris title and beats someone other than Djokovic in the final”

    Guess as only a casual follower of tennis, I’m lost on this statement. Why would only beating the player that you are trying to surpass, be the only player you can’t beat to overtake him? This seems totally irrational.

    • If Djoko reaches the final, he will still retain his no.1 ranking whether he wins the final or not. Even if Murray wins the title beating Djoko in the final, Murray won’t have enough points to surpass Djoko as no.1.

      Djoko has 12900 points now, less off 1300 from last year’s WTF and 400 points at Paris Masters ( diff between runner up this year and winnner last year, i.e. 1000 – 600), he would have 11200 points.

      Murray has 10985 points now, less off 200 from last year’s WTF and add in 400 points should he win at Paris (he was runner up last year), he would have 11185 points, still 15 points behind Djoko and so won’t be no.1 yet.

  5. QF:
    Cilic over Dimitrov
    Stan over Sock
    Tsonga over Raonic
    Murray over Dimitrov
    SF:
    Stan over Cilic
    Murray over Tsonga
    Final:
    Murray over Stan

    • I’ve Cilic over Stan and then Murray over Cilic in the final. Stan doesn’t play well on indoor surfaces and he’s exhausted (his own words).

  6. I like Sock to win that 2nd round match, and Murray (as usual) to win it all…should be great tv viewing….and would rather have Cilic in London than Berdych.

  7. It’s a good race between Andy and Nole – not quite as exciting (imo) as Kuznetsova and Cibulkova qualifying at the last minute. Anyways…

    Paris picks. Happy Ricky wrote it up; I like his Sock vs Isner. Gosh, I didn’t even think about Isner. The only one I felt halfway secure about picking yesterday was Andy Murray.
    QF
    Nole over Cilic
    Stan over Team Thiem
    Tsonga over Raonic
    Andy over RBA
    SF
    Andy over Jo
    Nole over Stan
    F
    Andy over Nole

  8. I simply love how all things Novak is done or not going to win Paris… 4 time and defending champion BTW. .. think many will be surprised by motivated he will be here to keep his number one ranking ahead of Murray… he will certainly be fresh… I don’t see Cilic getting past him at all here

    Sock lost so comfortably last week… has a tricky opener too if you ask me

    If Zverev plays like he did last week… Isner won’t win… doesn’t have the best of passing shots against someone who loves to come into the net regularly

    All in all… after watching day 1 and most of the favourites winning… I definitely see a few upsets on the 2nd day as it’s rare they all advance two days in a row

    • Denzil, anytime Nole decides to snap out of his funk, especially here in Paris and with the current field, he will become the favourite, no doubt about it.

      He’s more than capable obviously and the title is on his racquet IMO.

      But based on his form since the FO, he just isn’t (until he does).

  9. Maybe the number 1 ranking being on the line is sufficient motivation for Novak. I’ve been saying for a while now that he needed to shut his season down, but maybe he knows something I don’t. Still judging from his body language in interviews, he’s not where he needs to be.

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