tennis

The ATP BNP Paribas Masters: Will it be Boom or Bust for the Season Finale?

October 22, 2016

- Grant Whittington

While you never know what to expect from any sporting event, this is an even more relevant observation of those that take place towards the end of the season. Although there may still be everything to play for by the time the event comes around, for example, there is also the realistic chance that the major issues may have been resolved before a ball has even been struck in anger.

This is the conundrum associated with the final Masters Series event of the season, namely the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. Scheduled for the week between 31st October and 6th November, it is the last regular tournament of the season and finishes just a week before the ATP Tour Finals in London.

What Should We Expect from this Years’ BNP Paribas Masters?

In this respect, there are two eventualities that could occur. Either the tournament will be one of the most dramatic and keenly-contested events of the season, or it serve as little more than a warm-up for the main event at the O2 13th November. So what exactly should we expect from the event this time around?

Perhaps surprisingly, there is every reason to be optimistic about this years’ event. After all, at the time of writing only three of the eight available qualifying spots for the ATP Tour Finals have been claimed, with US Open winner Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray and the BNP Paribas Masters odds favourite Novak Djokovic having booked their passage to London.

When you consider that both Djokovic and Murray had already secured their positions by June, this suggests that a healthy and potentially intriguing level of competition remains in the men’s’ game ahead of the BNP Masters.

There are a host of qualifying tournaments between now and then though, including the China Open, the Shanghai Masters and the Kremlin Cup in Moscow. The China Open will be particularly interesting, as while it will mark the competitive return of Andy Murray, defending champion Novak Djokovic will be absent with an elbow injury and this open up a golden opportunity for an aspiring ATP Tour Finalist to stake his claim.

The Last Word: Will the BNP Paribas Masters Prove Decisive?

With Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori almost certain to claim the next two spots, this will realistically leave Gael Monfils, Dominic Thiem, Rafael Nadal and David Goffin competing for the final three spaces. So while the absence of Djokovic and Roger Federer through injury has certainly spiced things up, a China Open victory for any of these four would really make the race to London and the BNP Paribas Masters interesting.

Make no mistake; the level of competition that remains will determine the outcome of the BNP Paribas Masters, as will the fitness and form of Novak Djokovic. Whether this event will prove decisive is anyone’s guess, but one thing that can be assured is the Serb’s success if he arrives in Paris on top form and is able to put a challenging second half of the year behind him.

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