Last week’s ATP 500 action at Basel and Vienna went the way of the higher seeded players and at the time of writing third seed Nishikori was due to face fourth seed Cilic (advised 9/1) in the final at Basel. Nishikori has already qualified for the Year End World Tour Finals in London and if he wins Basel he will overtake Milos Raonic for fourth place in the Year End Ranking race.
If Cilic wins he will overtake Berdych in ninth place and will be hot on the heels of Thiem, who currently holds eight place in the race and final qualifying place for the Year End World Tour Finals. If Cilic makes a deep run at the Paris Masters this week and Thiem loses early, then Cilic could overtake the Austrian number one and steal the final qualifying place for the World Tour Finals, but only if the likes of Goffin in tenth and Berdych in ninth place don’t win Paris.
World number two and top-seed at Vienna Andy Murray was due to face sixth seed Tsonga in the final at the time of writing. If Murray wins Vienna it will be his sixth ATP title win of the season and he will narrow the gap on Djokovic in the Year End Rankings race to 500 points. If Murray wins Paris he will overtake Djokovic and narrow the gap in the overall rankings to just over 900 points. If Tsonga wins Vienna it will be his first ATP title success of the season and will move him up to 12th place in the singles race, just behind Cilic.
On to this week’s ATP action and it’s the final ATP and Masters Series Tournament of the season at Paris. World number one Novak Djokovic returns as the top-seed, defending champion and will aim to win his fourth Paris title in a row and fifth in total. Andy Murray is the second seed this week and he has never won the Paris title and has made one final (2015 lost to Djokovic). The top seed has won two of the last ten titles at Paris (last 2015 Djokovic) and has never been a losing finalist in this period. The second seed has won one of the last ten titles (last 2013 Djokovic) and was a losing finalist twice in this period (last 2015 Murray).
Seeded players in general have a strong record at Paris and a player seeded no higher than thirteen won nine of the last ten titles and a player seeded no higher than four won eight of the last ten titles, including the last seven. Also, a seeded player no higher than 17 was a losing finalist nine times over the last decade (last 2015 Murray) and a seeded player no higher than ten was a losing finalist six times in this period. This information points to a player seeded no higher than four winning this year’s title and a player seeded no higher than ten being the most likely losing finalist.
Defending champion and top-seed this week Novak Djokovic (7/4) knows winning Paris will put him well back in the driving seat in the singles ranking race and also finishing the year as the World number one again. With just Paris and the World Tour finals to go he must be quietly confident given his record at both events compared to Murray, and with all the pressure on the World Number two and his recent busy schedule I don’t see him overhauling Djokovic on this occasion.
Third seed and 2015 semi-finalist Stan Wawrinka (16/1), who resided in the top-half of the draw with Djokovic, is worth given a second chance to after flopping at Basel last week, in case Djokovic’s recent poor form continues. The statistics don’t bode well for Andy Murray this week so it’s worth giving tenth seed Roberto Bautista-Agut (66/1) a second chance after he flopped at Moscow and Vienna, as he’s had such a strong season, culminating with his Shanghai Masters final run, which surely can’t be a flash in the pan.
Finally, Lucas Pouille (80/1) seeded 13 is also worth a shot even though he disappointed in the Far East and at Vienna recently. I like his form prior to the Far East swing as he reached the quarter-finals of the US Open, then won his first ATP Tour title at Metz, which was indoors on home soil like this week, and a repeat of that form this week could be good enough to reach the final if the likes of Murray, Nishikori, and Tsonga are fatigued after last week and Raonic and Berdych continue to be as inconsistent as they’ve been this season.