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Studs and Duds: Reviewing The ATP Paris Masters 1000

Nov 3rd 2013

For the fourth consecutive season, no man outside the top five won a Masters 1000 shield.  Normally the refuge of anarchy in a hierarchical ATP, Paris stuck to a more conventional script this time.  No man outside the top 10 reached the quarterfinals, which marked a first for any Masters 1000 event since Canada four years ago. 

Novak Djokovic


Novak Djokovic:  The two key numbers from the world No. 2 this week were 16 (career Masters 1000 titles) and 17 (consecutive victories since the US Open).  Djokovic becomes the only active man to win two or more titles at six of nine Masters 1000 tournaments after sweeping the fall double in Shanghai and Paris.  Fittingly, he also has collected more titles this year than anyone except the only man ranked above him, Rafael Nadal.  In his first meeting with Roger Federer this year, Djokovic preserved the upper hand in their rivalry with an impressive comeback from losing the first set.  Bookending that victory were victories over Stanislas Wawrinka, who had threatened him on hard courts this year, and world No. 4 David Ferrer.  Djokovic will arrive in London with three straight wins over top-eight opponents, preparation ideal for a week when he will seek five more. 

David Ferrer:  Nobody has defended a title at the Paris Indoors since 1971, when Arthur Ashe did, but Ferrer came within a handful of points as he served for both sets in the final.  The memories of his lone Masters 1000 title run last year may have catalyzed his third runner-up effort in as many tournaments, a first in this veteran’s career.  Ferrer finally solved the conundrum of Rafael Nadal, avenging two three-set losses to his compatriot during the clay season.  After he failed to serve out their semifinal at the first opportunity, the feisty warrior simply earned himself another chance and converted it.  Destined to end the season in the top four, Ferrer becomes a more legitimate member of the elite with that victory.

Roger Federer:  What happens in Paris stays in Paris, as some will note about not just Ferrer’s upset but Federer’s victory over Juan Martin Del Potro.  And one should not draw conclusions too sweeping from a single match late in the fall, or from the set that Federer won from Djokovic a day later.  Despite those notes of caution, the Swiss master resembled his glorious self in Paris much more than he had in any tournament since the Australian Open.  Federer played bold, high-risk tennis from every corner of the court, relishing the indoor conditions that rewarded his precision.  He reached just his second semifinal of 2013 at a Masters 1000 tournament and will head to London with some of his confidence restored.

Stanislas Wawrinka

Last-minute London qualifiers:  The Race to London came down to the wire for two men who could have clinched their berths sooner.  Inconsistent play after the US Open by Stanislas Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet had given their rivals hope.  But each man did just enough in Paris to lock up those last two berths after all, each reaching a quarterfinal with authoritative performances against opponents of quality.  At that stage, both Wawrinka and Gasquet imitated origami against Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, respectively.  One does not fancy their chances in London’s elite field.  Nevertheless, Wawrinka qualified for the year-end championships for the first time, and Gasquet for the first time since 2007.  Those achievements deserve credit, no matter their eventual fates at the event.


Jo-Wilfried Tsonga:  A former champion at his home Masters 1000 event, Tsonga regularly excels on French soil and on indoor hard courts such as those in Paris.  That was not the case this year, when a nagging injury crippled his hopes of lunging into the World Tour Finals at the last moment.  In an opening-round loss to Kei Nishikori, Tsonga donated a double fault when holding match point and when facing match point.  He will welcome the chance to regain his health over the offseason while integrating the insights of new coaches Nicolas Escude and Thierry Ascione.

Benoit Paire:  Most fans outside France never have heard of Pierre-Hugues Herbert.  Paris tournament directors did not even grant their compatriot a wildcard, which shows how low he stands in the nation’s tennis hierarchy.  For one embarrassing match, however, the 26th-ranked Paire stood even lower.  That listless loss dropped him to 9-11 over the second half of 2013, a discouraging sign for a man whom many see as the future face of French tennis.

Tommy Haas:  Consecutive losses to countryman Philipp Kohlschreiber ended the 35-year-old’s season in a somewhat deflating way.  But Haas will forget those frustrations quickly when he steps back from his 2013 campaign, which included exploits such as a Roland Garros quarterfinal, a Miami semifinal, and an upset over Novak Djokovic.