Oct 30, 2022

ATP Paris Masters Preview: The Contenders

ATP Paris Masters Preview

Court Type: HARD indoor

Location: Paris, France

Weather: indoor event

Past Results: 2021 finals - Djokovic def Medvedev 4-6, 6-3, 6-3

Below, I will preview several groups of players: over-valued contenders, favorites, serious contenders, and interesting long shots (this does not factor in their place in the draw, but instead factors their recent form and performance in similar conditions)

Before we go on, to give some context to my picks, I’d like to share some history about this event. Over the years, Federer and Rafa often didn’t give a serious effort to contest this event. The timing of this event at the end of the year often leads to strange upsets and unexpected runs. Last year, the Quarterfinalists here were: Djokovic, Fritz, Duckworth, Hurkacz, Ruud, Zverev, Gaston, and Medvedev. Alcaraz beat Sinner in the second round and proceeded to lost to Gaston in straight sets. Koepfer beat Felix Auger Alliasime in the second round in straight sets. Tsitsipas retired in his first match against Popyrin. Rafa did not play last year after winning the US Open. In fact, since 2000, the USO champion has proceeded to win the Paris Masters only TWICE. Marat Safin did it in 2000. And Novak Djokovic did it in 2015.

Over-valued contenders: This is a group of players who undoubtedly possess the talent/skills to win this tournament, but for one reason or another, they probably won’t.

Ruud: Ruud has already accomplished more than he could have possibly expected at the beginning of the year, and he has nothing left to prove this year. Since his USO finals run, he has seen a drop in form, and has lost his last 3 tour matches to Munar, Nishioka, and Wawrinka, and only beating Jarry (in 3 sets). Ruud is much improved on hard courts and made the QF here last year, but due to his recent form I have no reason to believe in him here.

Tiafoe: Tiafoe has also had a dip in form post USO and team competitions. Tiafoe thrived with the USO crowds, and thrived in the team tennis environment, but the smaller tournaments since then have led to what seems like an emotional letdown. He has been seen acting very mopey and lackadaisical on court, even complaining about being tired from the long season during the on court interview after barely beating Elias Ymer in Stockholm. He then proceeded to get absolutely rolled by Ruusuvuori. The Paris Masters features a raucous crowd which is more up Tiafoe’s alley, but they may not necessarily be cheering for him, and for that reason, I am out.

Nadal: Rafa’s health is a question mark, and Rafa’s form is a question mark, but that was also somewhat true going into the Australian Open. And then, Rafa won AO. But there’s two main differences compared with Paris Masters. One, Rafa won a warmup tournament going into the Australian Open. In this case, the Paris Masters is the warmup tournament for ATP Finals. His coach even admitted so, with Carlos Moya commenting “before arriving in Turin, you have to play matches in Paris, which are similar.” Two, Rafa has never won this event, and he probably doesn’t care to. If he cared to win it, he probably would have done so already. His best result here was in 2007 when he lost to Nalbandian in the finals 6-4 6-0. You can never count Rafa out, but I don’t actually believe Rafa is coming into this tournament expecting to win it. If Rafa does end up winning it, I will eat my hat.

Alcaraz: In case you didn’t hear, Alcaraz just lost to Auger Alliasime 6-3 6-2 at Basel. He looked out of sorts and even disinterested at times. He didn’t fight like he normally does. Felix is playing at an incredible level right now so perhaps it’s an “acceptable loss.” Alcaraz fans may say this is an overreaction to one match, to label Alcaraz as an overvalued contender. But it’s not just a reaction to one match, it’s in response to a historical trend, where it’s incredibly rare for the USO champion to follow it up with a Paris Masters win. It’s like a once in a decade type thing. Is this the one time this decade that the USO champion wins Paris? Given how Alcaraz looked against Felix, and given how Alcaraz was defeated by the French crowd (I mean Gaston) last year, I’m not so sure he’s the guy to do it this year.


Djokovic: Djokovic is the defending champion and 6 time Paris Masters champion. Enough said. He’d the man to beat.

Medvedev: Medvedev was last year’s finalist and won in 2020. He had Djokovic on the ropes in their last match in Astana, where Medvedev had to retire with a fluky injury at one set all. Medvedev can beat everyone in this draw, and has a fair chance to beat Djokovic too. He’s struggled to win anything of significance this year, and winning the Paris Masters would be a great way to cap off a somewhat disappointing year.

Serious Contenders

Auger Alliasime: Felix is on a 12 match winning streak including a demolition of World #1 Carlos Alcaraz, and is looking to make it 3 titles in 3 weeks in a couple hours. His form is incredible, he’s playing the best tennis of his life, and he has been winning matches so easily he’s not even physically fatigued. We can almost consider him a favorite, if not for his history at this event, where his only win came against Gianluca Mager in 3 sets, and he has yet to advance past the second round.

Hurkacz: Hubie is in good form, his game seems to suit this surface, and he was a semi-finalist last year. He hasn’t been dominating like Felix, but he has played a lot of high level, competitive matches since the USO, and won his fair share of those. Although Hubie is 0-4 against Djokovic, he owns a 3-2 H2H against Medvedev, so he seems to have a fair chance if he can avoid Djokovic.

Interesting Long Shots

Khachanov: How did Khachanov sneak into this list? He hasn’t done much lately since he shocked us by making the USO Semi-finals. He’s kind of in a similar position to Tiafoe, except that he is probably more undervalued (haven’t looked at the actual odds yet) and has a better chance to win. What makes me think that? Khachanov is actually a former Paris Masters champion. Karen Khachanov won this tournament in 2018, defeating Novak Djokovic in the finals. Perhaps he finds his USO form for one more run before heading off for the off-season?

Dimitrov: Grigor seems to play incredible tennis for several weeks during the year. Last week, we saw flashes of this incredible tennis. Perhaps he builds on his recent good form for a Paris run? History favors Dimitrov at this event, as he was a Semi-finalist in 2019, and Quarter-finalist in 2016, losing to Djokovic on both occasions (in 3 sets in 2016). Dimitrov had a good run last year, beating Gasquet and Khachanov before losing to Zverev in a 3 set epic (by the way, Zverev would be one of the favorites if he were healthy and playing). Grigor often plays some good tennis at this event, and shouldn’t be overlooked.