Scouting Report: Djokovic Returns, Medvedev Defends In Paris

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2021

The stars of the ATP Tour are set to compete in the Rolex Paris Masters — the final ATP Masters 1000 event of the season — this week. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and defending champion Daniil Medvedev lead the way. looks at 10 things you should watch in Paris-Bercy.

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1) Djokovic Back In Action: The top seed will compete for the first time since the US Open, where he lost in the final against Medvedev. A victory in that match would have given the Serbian the Grand Slam, having won the first three majors of the year.

Djokovic will be confident knowing he is a five-time Rolex Paris Masters champion, with triumphs in four of his past six appearances at the ATP Masters 1000 event. The 34-year-old, who will open against Fabio Fognini or Marton Fucsovics, is currently tied with Rafael Nadal for the most Masters 1000 titles with 36. He will also play doubles with countryman Filip Krajinovic.

2) Novak Chasing Year-End No. 1 Record: Not only is Djokovic returning to action, but he can make history in his first event back. Novak and Pete Sampras are tied for the most finishes atop the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings with six each. There are three scenarios in which Djokovic can clinch a record-breaking seventh year-end No. 1 finish in Paris. The 34-year-old will do it if he reaches the final, if he advances to the semi-finals and Medvedev does not win the title, or if the Russian does not make the championship match.

3) Huge Week For Race: The FedEx ATP Race To Turin does not end in Paris, but it will be critical with two spots remaining in Turin in both the singles and doubles fields. The singles Race is especially tight, with only 230 points separating seventh-placed Casper Ruud and 11th-placed Cameron Norrie (ninth-placed Nadal is done for the year due to a foot injury).

Ruud and Jannik Sinner currently hold the final two qualifying singles spots. Seventh-placed Kevin Krawietz/Horia Tecau and eighth-placed Jamie Murray-Bruno Soares are trying to shore up their spots in the season finale, to be played at the Pala Alpitour from 14-21 November.

4) Medvedev Defending Champ: Second-seeded Medvedev will try to retain his title in Paris-Bercy one year after lifting the trophy. The Russian still has an outside chance at year-end No. 1, but he must make the final to maintain his hopes.

The 25-year-old, who will play Belarusian Ilya Ivashka or Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round, will try to claim his fourth Masters 1000 title this week. He is still flying high after emerging victorious at the US Open for his maiden major crown.

5) Murray Leads Wild Cards: Former World No. 1 Andy Murray received one of the four wild cards, so the Scot will compete in the Rolex Paris Masters for the first time since 2016. That year, he critically won the title en route to finishing year-end World No. 1. The 34-year-old will face a tough test in the first round against qualifier Jenson Brooksby, who needed more than three hours to eliminate Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena on Sunday. In August, Murray tweeted about the #NextGenATP American: “Jenson Brooksby is the sort of player I love to watch… lots of variety… high tennis IQ… great in defence… His slice and backhand volley are almost identical to Florian Mayer.”

6) French Hopes: The other three wild cards went to Frenchmen: former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Arthur Rinderknech. There are seven Frenchmen in the main draw, led by 15th seed Gael Monfils. The 35-year-old has found a good level lately, having reached the semi-finals in Metz and the final in Sofia. #NextGenATP Frenchman Hugo Gaston came through qualifying, where he needed three sets to beat Kevin Anderson and Lorenzo Musetti.

7) Tsitsipas Seeks Paris Breakthrough: It has been another strong season for Tsitsipas, who will pursue his second Nitto ATP Finals title in Turin. But first, the Greek star will try to make his mark at the Rolex Paris Masters, where he owns a 2-2 record. Both of his wins came in 2019, when he made the quarter-finals before losing to Djokovic. The third seed will have to navigate a tricky opening match against South African Lloyd Harris or Australian Alex de Minaur.

8) Zverev In Form: Alexander Zverev arrives in Paris as one of the most in-form players on the ATP Tour. The German has won 25 of his past 27 matches dating back to the start of the Tokyo Olympics, where he won the singles gold medal. On Sunday, he battled past Frances Tiafoe for the Vienna title. Now, he will try to go one step further in Paris than he did last year, when he defeated Stan Wawrinka and Nadal in back-to-back matches before falling to Medvedev in the final. First up for the five-time Masters 1000 champion will be Serbian Dusan Lajovic or American Mackenzie McDonald.

9) Americans Charging: Two Americans enjoyed great runs last week: Vienna finalist Frances Tiafoe and St. Petersburg finalist Taylor Fritz. Tiafoe eliminated three Top 20 opponents and Fritz backed up his run to the Indian Wells semi-finals. Both will try to maintain their level at the Rolex Paris Masters. Three Americans also clawed through qualifying: Brooksby, Marcos Giron and Tommy Paul. Giron rallied from 0-5 in the third set against former Top 10 star Gilles Simon in the first round of qualifying. McDonald and #NextGenATP star Sebastian Korda are also in the field.

10) Cabal/Farah Have Momentum: The top seeds, Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, have won nine tour-level titles together this year. But fifth seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah bring momentum to Paris after triumphing at the Erste Bank Open. Other teams to watch include second seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, Indian Wells champions John Peers and Filip Polasek, and Tsitsipas and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi.

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