Monday, October 29, 2012

Bercy Indoors Preview!

When the words 'Paris' and 'Tennis' are heard together, connecting that with Roland Garros is inevitable for any tennis fan.

Quietly, in the shadows of RG, the BNP Paribas Paris Masters (Bercy) has been churning out champions for the past 40 years. A lot of big names in the past have won at Bercy but till last year, this was probably the biggest tournament on whose silverware neither 'Roger Federer' nor 'Rafael Nadal' had never been etched. Thankfully for the tournament, Roger took off that oddity by winning it in 2011, for, if he had not, the streak would have continued this year as well as both Roger and Rafa have opted out of the event.

What's in stake?

Leading the line-up of stars is Novak Djokovic, the World No.2 this week and No.1 next week - irrespective of what happens here. Apart from proving his authority and stylishly getting back atop the rankings chart, the 2009 champion has nothing much to prove. For Andy Murray, vital points collected here can help him set his sight on the No.2 which he would happily accept if he can get there by the year end or in time for the Australian Open 2013. For other top stars like Berdych, Tsonga, last week's victors Ferrer and delPotro, wins against one another in the later stages of the tournament could give the much needed confidence ahead of their clashes-to-be at the O2 arena in London next week. The last berth for the World Tour Finals is up for grabs and the likely contenders Tipsarevic and Gasquet would be inspired to take a deep plunge into the draw. Never rule out the Outsiders like Raonic & Almagro who can mathematically still make it to the World Tour Finals. For the rest of the field, a good performance at the last event of the year would give them some nice confidence for the season ahead.

What's the draw like?

Top Half:

Victor Hanescu is the lucky loser who replaces Federer after the latter's last minute withdrawal. He is a lucky lucky loser as he gets a bye directly into round 2. Murray and Berdych are the top seeds in the top half. Murray has a tough one on paper. He has to contend with PHM, the man who had a good last week at Basel, in round 2 and has to go past Cilic in round 3 if he wants to help himself and Gasquet's chances in a potential quarter final match with Tipsarevic.
For Berdych, a  round-3 clash with Gasquet is in the offing, for which Gasquet needs to overcome either the brazilian left-hander Bellucci who has an uncanny knack to play well against top players or the South African giant Kevin Anderson! Going by the draw, if you were to choose between Tipsarevic and Gasquet on who'l buy tickets to London, choosing the Serbian would be a better thing to do.

A good first round match to look for in this half would be the one between the new father in the circuit,Baghdatis and home boy Gilles Simon. Whoever wins there can fancy his chance of reaching the last 16/last 8 thanks to Federer's withdrawal.

Bottom Half:
There are a lot of potential mouth-watering clashes in this half as well. With Novak pitted to face Raonic in round 3 and delPotro in his quarters , he has his hands full! For delPotro who, with a staggering 17-1 indoors this season,is looking for a third title in three straight weeks, Isner might offer some resistance if they are to meet in round 3. In other possible match-ups, it would be nice to see if Wawrinka can realise his potential if and  when he takes on the in-form Ferrer in a round 3 clash. For the 2008 champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the quarter appears good as he has to contend with men like Troicki/Almagro against who he has the power and skill to dominate. If Benneteau can get inspired like he did when he upset Roger at this event in 2009, it would help the french crowd see an all French clash in Tsonga vs Benneteau.

A good first round match from this half would be the one between Llodra and Stepanek. For people fed up with the baseline slugfests, this could be one match to look for as the two are known for their liking to finish off points one way or the other from the net!

In all, a lot of promising match-ups and a pleasantly vociferous Paris crowd, we can expect quite a few fireworks in the last regular event of the year. If that is not enough, here's a trivia. Since 2003, the event has seen different men win different editions and this year, one man has the skill and form to end that streak. Novak Djokovic, of Serbia. There is a Scot practising somewhere in Bercy who would want to let the streak continue! We'l see how it pans out!

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