SOIREE
du Tuesday 29 Octobre 2019 at 19h00 au Tuesday 29 Octobre 2019 at 20h30
ROLEX PARIS MASTERS From October 31th to November 8th, 2020
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And they are under starter’s orders: the brightest and best at the Rolex Paris Masters are lined up and champing at the bit for the race towards the end of the season.
 
After the best part of 10-and-a-bit months on tour, there is still everything to play for and the end of year No.1 ranking is the biggest prize on offer. But then there are the final tickets to book for the ATP Tour Finals in London – Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev have the keenest interest in this particular battle – and the hardly small matter of the famous RPM trophy to award a week on Sunday. It a huge week ahead for the good and the great of men’s tennis.


 
With Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal ready to chase each other all the way to the tape in order to end the year as the world No.1, they need all the points they can gather this week. At the moment, Djokovic is still on top of the rankings but Nadal is ahead in the race, the ranking based on the results from this year alone. And both have their work cut out for them in the coming days now that the draw has been made.
 
Djokovic is seeded to meet Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals but to get there he must get past either Dusan Lajovic or Richard Gasquet in the second round (Djokovic has a bye in the first round) and then, possibly, Diego Schwartzman in the third round. He’s beaten the Argentine three times in the past but it has never been easy – it never is for anyone against diminutive Diego.
 


But it is the threat of Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals that could be Djokovic’s undoing. They last met in Shanghai just a couple of weeks ago and the Greek world No.7 claimed voctory in three sets.
 
That was the week that Medvedev won his second Masters 1000 title of the season, beating Zverev (of whom more later) in the final. Then again, Daniil has been making a habit of beating everyone of late – he has lost just three matches since Wimbledon.
 

He begins his campaign against either Guido Pella or a qualifier and could face big John Isner and his even bigger serve in the third round. A win there would, in all probability, put him through to face Dominic Thiem, twice a Roland Garros finalist, in the quarter-finals. That depends, of course, on Thiem getting past Milos Raonic in his opening match.
 
Down in the bottom half of the draw, Zverev and Roger Federer are on a collision course to meet in the quarter-finals. The road to that meeting is littered with huge obstacles – for Zverev, he has Borna Coric or Fernando Verdasco to contend with first with any one of Fabio Fognini, Gilles Simon or Denis Shapovalov in the third round – but according to the seeding, meet they will.


 
Federer opens his account against either Radu Albot or Nikoloz Basilashvili and then must prepare himself for a showdown with either Gael Monfils or Benoit Paire (this section of the draw ought to renamed “The French Quarter”). And then there is Zverev.
 
Meanwhile, sitting quietly at the bottom of the draw is the newly married Nadal. As honeymoons go, facing Adrian Mannarino or a qualifier and then, in all likelihood, Stan Wawrinka in the third round is hardly the most relaxing way to celebrate his nuptials but that is what he must do. That would take him through to the last eight where he could find either the defending champion, Karen Khachanov or Berrettini.
 
In theory – or according to the seedings – by Friday we should have whittled the draw down to Djokovic against Tsitsipas, Medvedev against Thiem, Federer against Zverev and Nadal against Khachanov. But with so much to play for and with so many thoroughbreds ready for the off, who knows what the next few days will bring. All that is certain is that you should not take your eyes off the action at the AccorHotels Arena until the last ball has been struck.

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