Coming at the end of a very, very long season, Paris has a tendency to be the forgotten Masters event. Top players have skipped it over the years as they wind down or prepare for the ATP Finals.
However, thankfully for the organisers, 2019 sees a positive change as the top three are all set to take part in Bercy next week. Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal are already on-site and the top two actually practiced together this weekend.
Note that Roger Federer is into the final of his home tournament Basel for the 15th time and could make a late decision to withdraw from Paris. But even if the great Swiss pulls out, there is a stellar cast of players left in the draw including Dominic Thiem, Alex Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and the man of the moment, Daniil Medvedev.
That isn’t a typo. I have actually gone for the Mallorcan over Djokovic in an indoor event. Before the disgruntled tweets come in, let me explain my reasoning.
First, the world no.1 has an awful draw here. To reach the final for the sixth time, Djokovic may well have to beat Diego Schwartzman, Tsitsipas and Medvedev back-to-back.
While Schwartzman is a tricky opponent who is in the final of Vienna today, the four-time champ will be most concerned with the prospect of facing the Greek and Russian. Tsitsipas just defeated Djokovic in Shanghai while Medvedev has twice gotten the better of the Serb in 2019.
As it’s a Masters 1000, Nadal’s draw is considerably better rather than easy. The 33-year-old, who’s never won here, should beat potential early opponents Adrian Mannarino and Stan Wawrinka. From there, if he is anywhere near his US Open level, a run to the final is likely unless Federer rewrites the script in the semis.
There’s also the little incentive of finishing the year as world no.1 for the Spaniard if he can lift the trophy next Sunday.
Outsiders worth backing
The Russian is not so much an outsider but the fourth favourite for the event at least. Medvedev seems addicted to winning having made the final of six consecutive events and won three of those. The world no.4 comes to Paris on a nine-match winning streak after back-to-back titles in St. Petersburg and Shanghai. No one will want to play him here, especially Djokovic.
All at sea for much of the year, the German has rediscovered some form in recent weeks. Zverev made the last four in Beijing (lost to Tsitsipas) and backed it up with a strong run to the final of Shanghai. He lost in straights to Medvedev there but did beat Federer along the way. The 22-year-old is strong indoors and serving well again.
Paris has a recent habit of breakthrough performances from the ATP’s supporting cast. Karen Khachanov won it last year and Jack Sock took the spoils in 2017. If there is to be a new Masters champ, it’s likely to be the Italian. The 23-year-old is at a career-high of 11 and comes in with back-to-back semi-final runs in Shanghai and Vienna.