ATP Paris Masters 2012 Draw Preview and Analysis

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For the full draw, click here: ATP Paris Masters 2012 Draw

Next week sees the final Masters 1000 of the year, the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris is the final tournament before the season ends, except for those participating in the World Tour Finals. This year is the 41st edition of the tournament and past winners include former no.1′s such as Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras and Stefan Edberg. Marat Safin and Boris Becker both have won the tournament a record three times. A different player has won the tournament every year since 2003 while the French have performed well in recent years at this tournament. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils have both made two finals in the last four years, although Tsonga was the only success – defeating David Nalbandian in 2008. As well as the 1000 points up for grabs for the winner, the year end No.1 picture will be much clear and the final places for the World Tour Finals (and alternates) will be confirmed.

Defending champion and No.1 seed Roger Federer has decided to withdraw from the event in the last minute as he wants to get some good rest before the ATP World Tour Finals that starts next week. Victor Hanescu of Romania takes his place as a lucky loser and he will get to play either Gilles Simon or Marcos Baghdatis in round two. Baghdatis holds a 2-1 head to head over his French opponent but they have not played since 2010. Kei Nishikori looks a likely third round opponent – the Japanese has continued to impress and capped off a great year with the title in Tokyo earlier this month defeating two tricky players in Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic on his way to victory. The unpredictable Benoit Paire will square off against Spaniard Pablo Andujar and a likely Nishikori threat in round two.

Basel semi finalist Richard Gasquet will be hoping to continue his good form indoors this year. As well as Basel, he also took the Bangkok title recently. He starts against either Kevin Anderson or Thomaz Bellucci. Anderson gave Juan Martin Del Potro a lot of trouble in Basel while Bellucci added to his Moscow finals place with a competent performance against Roger Federer – including taking a set and only losing 7-5 in the decider. The pair have met twice, Bellucci took the most recent encounter – however it was on the clay of Monte Carlo. Bellucci has proved though that he can play on faster surfaces in recent weeks and could surprise here. Two other indoor title holders this year face off for the chance to play Tomas Berdych. Andreas Seppi, who defeated Bellucci in the Moscow final plays Martin Klizan who was also in successful in Russia, in St Petersburg. Klizan has disappointed since winning his title but has had the misfortune to run into Marin Cilic twice who now has 3 victories over him in under two months while Seppi was defeated by Benoit Paire in Basel. Berdych also has a title of his own indoors, having taken Stockholm after defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a crazy three set match.

Andy Murray‘s quarter sees four qualifiers in four separate first round ties. Wildcard Paul Henri-Mathieu has made the semi final in Basel (also as a wildcard), although he has taken advantage of a open draw. The experienced Frenchman’s best performance here was a third round in 2005 and 2006 but he will have an enormous task to repeat that this year. Marin Cilic also has the potential to play a qualifier should they make it past Philipp Kohlschreiber. Since the US Open, Kohlschreiber has had little success which included losing in the first round of a challenger. Cilic should make the third round here but will definitely not fancy his chances against Murray – he has a 1-7 record against the Scot.

Juan Monaco starts against either a qualifier or Jurgen Melzer. Since winning Kuala Lumpur, Monaco has won just one match in three tournaments. Melzer disappointed in Vienna and was surprised by David Goffin in Valencia but has a title to his name indoors, where he defeated Milos Raonic in Memphis. Meanwhile eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic could be in danger if Alexandr Dolgopolov can keep his form for a second week running. In Valencia the Ukranian has made the semi finals without dropping a set and saw off defending champion Marcel Granollers for the lost of just two games. It is always hard to predict how Dolgopolov will play but if in the mood he can stay with the best of them.

Last year’s losing finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be hoping to go one better and will be happy with his section of the draw with a semi final spot a distinct possibility. He begins against either a fellow Frenchman in Julien Benneteau or Viktor Troicki. Troicki has continued to disappoint in the latter part of the year and recently was defeated by Malek Jaziri as well as being defeated by Grigor Dimitrov in Basel. Benneteau was also eliminated by Dimitrov in Basel but at least has some indoor form to his name – he defeated David Ferrer on his way to the Final in Kuala Lumpur. Benneteau leads the head to head 1-0 against Troicki, taking four sets to defeat him at the 2009 US Open. Spanish representation is guaranteed in round three with Nicolas Almagro facing the winner of Feliciano Lopez and wildcard Albert Ramos. Ramos was a surprise winner in their only meeting, this year in Miami. Almagro exited at the quarter finals stage in Valencia, playing well but ultimately coming up short against David Ferrer. Lopez has exited at indoor tournaments against Sergei Stakhovsky and Igor Sijsling recently so Almagro should see little trouble on his way to the third round.

If Almagro can see his way past Tsonga then an all-Spanish quarter final looks on the cards with David Ferrer top seed in the quarter. Ferrer could face a fellow Spaniard in his opening match, with Marcel Granollers taking on Mikhail Youzhny for the opportunity to face Ferrer. Granollers was thrashed by Alexandr Dolgopolov in Valencia, picking up just two games on his way to surrendering the trophy he won last year. Meanwhile, Youzhny has made at least the quarter finals in his past three indoor tournaments but will have been disappointed to not win it all in St Petersburg. Meanwhile, Stanislas Wawrinka will face either Denis Istomin or a qualifier. Istomin troubled Wawrinka in Shanghai, pushing him to three sets and possibly could have won had he took a number of break points available.

Novak Djokovic rounds off the draw with his quarter having numerous big servers in there that have the potential to trouble the Serb if their games are on. A potential route to the quarter finals for him could be Sam Querrey-Milos Raonic-John Isner- Juan Martin Del Potro. Querrey must defeat Fernando Verdasco to face Djokovic in the second round. In four of his last five tournaments Querrey has faced a Spaniard and lost to three of them in David Ferrer, Nicolas Almagro and Feliciano Lopez. However, he did beat Verdasco in Beijing before the exit to Lopez and holds a 2-1 head to head over him. Jeremy Chardy plays for the first time since Beijing and lack of playing time will not be ideal, but he will happy to at least start with a qualifier. If he comes through the opener, he plays Milos Raonic. Raonic disappointed in his exit to Gilles Muller in Valencia and will be at danger of a shock if he doesn’t improve.

Another big serving player who underperformed in Valencia was John Isner, who was expected to go far in the tournament. He lost from a break up in the final set to David Goffin in the second round, a lead you would expect the American to hold on to. Tie breaks are to be expected if wildcard Michael Llodra can see off Radek Stepanek in the first round. It doesn’t look promising for the former semi-finalist here who has won just once in seven attempts against the Czech, including a straight sets defeat in Basel qualifiers. Juan Martin Del Potro continues to battle on through numerous injury niggles and has made the semi final in Basel and is  favoured to make the final. Del Potro will have the benefit of an opening round bye before taking on either Florian Mayer or a qualifier. The projected quarter final between Del Potro and Djokovic will be must-watch if both players get there as expected.

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