For those not lying flat out on the rehabilitation bench, Paris Bercy calls. The final stop on the Masters 1000 tour has historically been known as one of the faster indoor hard-court tournaments and previous results have reinforced this.
Bomb-droppers of varying effectiveness Jerzy Janowicz (2012), Milos Raonic (2014) and John Isner (2016) have all recently reached the final (albeit only to finish runner-up). We think that putting your faith in (and money on) serve orientated players might pay dividends here.
Who’s running on empty?
It happens every year – around this time some players simply run out of gas. Joining Dominic Thiem for his annual end-of-season crash is Pablo Carreño Busta. It’s been an impressive year for PCB, but since reaching the US Open semi-final he’s looked half the player he was; losing 4 of his last 5. Add in the Spaniard’s return-orientated grinder-based game and we expect little from him here.
Who has the most to play for?
Clearly a Masters 1000 tournament alone is prestigious and rich enough to motivate the majority, but those with slightly more on the line might push a significant few percent harder. Added drive could manifest from the chance of a career high year-end ranking, an outside shot at snatching a World Tour Finals spot, or just the prospect of a deep run in a weaker-than-usual Masters field.
Some players will have even further incentive to give their all in the final few weeks of the season – breaking through ranking milestones can trigger bonuses from sponsors. Dennis Shapovalov is believed to have already guaranteed a pay-out for breaking into the top 100 and a further pay-out will be triggered if he secures a top 50 year-end ranking. Shap is currently at no.49 and with a decent hard-court record he’ll look to Paris to notch up as many points as he can. On that note, rumour has it Sam Querrey is in line for a tidy sum if he pulls off a year-end top-ten and a WTF spot. And did we say earlier to look out for a serve orientated player to back?!
Conversely, looking out for those who might be winding down, with little riding on their own best or worst-case end of year ranking, is arguably more important. Those likely to tank a service game, set or even match; the Fogninis, Paires and Tomics… we’re watching you.
With so many of the sport’s elite missing through injury, the draw is wide open. We think backing the likes of Querrey, Del Potro (the old magic looks to be coming back) or Tsonga (recently back from injury to take down the European Open in Antwerp) to take advantage is a smart move. These three have the experience, motivation and weapons to go all the way to Paris Masters 1000 glory.
Everyone loves a dark horse
David Goffin will never be described as serve-orientated. But our rule, you’ll be surprised to hear, is not gospel! David Ferrer will tell you so – he lifted the trophy in 2012 and just fell short the following year in finishing runner-up. A box that Goffin does tick is the ‘has a lot to play for’ – he’s yet another contender hoping to squeeze into the ATP Finals in London. Recent back-to-back titles in Asia (Shenzhen and Tokyo) shows he’s in form too.