2013 BNP Paribas Masters: Final Tournament Of The 2013 ATP World Tour Regular Season
by 29 October 2013, 10:30 AM
This week marks the final tournament of the 2013 ATP World Tour regular season: the BNP Paribas Masters. The Paris Masters is the final of nine Masters 1000 events in 2013. Aside from being the final tournament of the 2013 regular season, the tournament will feature several prominent storylines that will play themselves out. Rafael Nadal, the tournament and world No. 1 seed, will look to make history by winning the Paris Masters. Tournament and world No. 2 seed Novak Djokovic will look to cut into Nadal’s lead for the world No. 1 ranking. A group of other players will be competing for the final three qualifying positions in next week’s 2013 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, the year-end event on the ATP World Tour. With the tournament being so critical for many of the top men on the tour, the BNP Paribas Masters will definitely end the 2013 ATP World Tour regular season on a high note.
Rafael Nadal, coming off two weeks of rest, will look to add another tournament title to the ten he has won this season. Furthermore, he will be looking to become the first player to ever win six ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events since the Masters Series become an annual part of the ATP Tour in 1990. Nadal’s five Masters 1000 victories in 2013 (Indian Wells, Madrid, Rome, Montreal, and Cincinnati) equal the five that Novak Djokovic recorded in 2011 (Indian Wels, Miami, Madrid, Rome, and Montreal). If Nadal were to win in Paris, he would also tie his personal record for most ATP Tour titles in a single season with eleven. Nadal is certainly having one of the best seasons in his career, and a win at the Paris Masters could solidify it as his best. Nadal has never won the Paris Masters, but has only competed in the tournament three times in his career.
Novak Djokovic, also coming off two weeks of rest, will look to cut into the 550 point margin that he trails Rafael Nadal for the world No. 1 rankings. Nadal has a clear advantage over Djokovic to end the 2013 season as the world No. 1, but Djokovic can still mathematically steal the No. 1 ranking away before the season ends. By losing in the second round of the 2012 BNP Paribas Masters to Sam Querrey, Djokovic gained only ten points towards his overall point total. If Djokovic were to win in this week’s BNP Paribas Masters, he would claim 1,000 points and increase his point total by 990 points. Djokovic would also have to win the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals next week since he won the event in 2012. Anything short of a title would mean that Djokovic would lose significant points. Nadal did not participate or receive any points in either the 2012 BNP Paribas Masters or the 2012 ATP World Tour Finals. For Djokovic to gain ground on Nadal, he would have to win this week and next, and Nadal would have to suffer an early defeat this week and multiple losses in round robin play next week.
Djokovic does not have a stellar history in competing at the Paris Masters over his career. In eight career attempts, Djokovic has only won the Paris Masters once. In fact, he has only reached the quarterfinals of the event twice. Djokovic has reached at least the quarterfinals of each of the other eight Masters 1000 tournaments at least four times over his career. His 64.7% winning percentage in Paris is also his lowest of the nine Masters 1000 events. Djokovic has not found the same level of success in Paris as at other Masters locations, but he is undefeated in twelve singles matches since his loss to Nadal in the U.S. Open finals. Although he will not likely catch Nadal for the No. 1 ranking in 2013, he has a good chance at reversing his history in Paris and extending his winning streak.
Three qualifying positions are still up for grabs in the final week for a place in the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals. World No. 3 David Ferrer, No. 4 Andy Murray, No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro, and No. 7 Tomas Berdych have all previously qualified for a spot in next week’s finals alongside Nadal and Djokovic. With Murray withdrawing from the tournament due to back surgery, three spots are left to be taken. Eight men- world No. 6 Roger Federer, No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka, No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 10 Richard Gasquet, No. 11 Milos Raonic, No. 12 Tommy Haas, No. 13 Nicolas Almagro, and No. 15 Mikhail Youzhny- all have a mathematical chance of qualifying.
The man who needs to do the least in order to qualify is Roger Federer. Federer only needs a victory in his first round match to guarantee a sport in the ATP World Tour Finals. Despite a disappointing 2013 season in which Federer only won one title, he will likely qualify for his 12th consecutive ATP World Tour Finals. The men who need to do the most in order to qualify are Tommy Haas, Nicolas Almagro, and Mikhail Youzhny. In order to have a chance at qualifying, each man would have to win the Paris Masters and have help from the other players looking to qualify. None of the three have ever won an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event, so their hopes of qualifying seem very slim.
Wawrinka, Tsonga, Gasquet, and Raonic will likely be battling at the BNP Paribas Masters for two qualifying positions in the ATP World Tour Finals. The margin between Wawrinka, Gasquet, and Tsonga is a mere 95 points, with Raonic trailing Tsonga by an additional 285 points. Raonic has a chance to qualify if he reaches the finals and has some help from the other three. Raonic reached the finals in front of a home crowd at the Masters 1000 event in Montreal earlier in the year as the 11 seed. He enters the Paribas Masters as the 10 seed. To reach the finals, Raonic could potentially face No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych, No. 3 seed David Ferrer, and No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal in consecutive matches. If the draw holds to form, it would be highly unlikely that Raonic could survive this gauntlet to reach the finals and qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals.
The picture gets cloudier in predicting between Wawrinka, Gasquet, and Tsonga since they are separated by such few points. Wawrinka benefits from being on the opposite half of the draw as Gasquet and Tsonga. Wawrinka needs to win his second round match, and possibly his third, to solidify a qualifying spot. Gasquet and Tsonga, who will potentially face each other in the third round, will likely compete for the final qualifying spot if both men reach the third round. Both Gasquet and Tsonga could potentially receive qualifying spots if Wawrinka were to lose in his second round match, but it is more likely that the two Frenchmen will fittingly compete head-to-head for the final spot in the third round of the Paris Masters. On the indoor hard courts in Paris, I like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to defeat Richard Gasquet and join Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka in qualifying for the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals next week.
With the stories of Nadal, Djokovic, and the three qualifying spots left for the ATP year-end tournament, the 2013 BNP Paris Masters has significant importance moving forward on the ATP World Tour. I’m excited to see the results from this dramatic week in Paris and how they affect next week’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.