Novak Djokovic looks to end the season with a flourish, Andy Murray chases the world no. 1 ranking, and several top stars embark on a last-minute rush for atp World Tour Finals qualification. It’s the BNP Paribas Paris Masters, and we have it previewed and predicted!
Projected quarter-final: Novak Djokovic  vs David Goffin  (Djokovic leads H2H 4-0)
It’s never been the same for the formerly invincible Novak Djokovic since that third round Wimbledon shocker against Sam Querrey. He may claimed Montreal glory upon his return to tour, but the depleted field provided little with which to test the Serb – who has not won a trophy since the Canada Masters. His last appearance a semifinal showing at the Shanghai Masters (where he lost to Roberto Bautista Agut in a mind-boggling upset), time spent with his family – and and the foreign prospect of losing his no. 1 ranking – might be enough to reinvigorate Djokovic for the final weeks of the season.
In Paris, the top seed will require his trademark mentality from the offset. After a first round bye, he could well face former top ten star Nicolas Almagro in round two – should the Spaniard survive big-serving Gilles Muller in his opener. No. 14 seed Grigor Dimitrov – a revitalised threat – is his projected third round opponent, and has beaten Djokovic once before.
Meanwhile, no. 8 seed David Goffin has a decent shot at London qualification going into Paris. The Belgian must ensure that this prospect is not detrimental to his mentality, as he faces a tough clash in either Martin Klizan or Nicolas Mahut in the second round. Big servers Ivo Karlovic and Marin Cilic – semifinalists in Vienna and Basel the past week – lurk as prospective third round foes.
SEMIFINALIST: Novak Djokovic
Projected quarter-final: Stan Wawrinka  vs Dominic Thiem  (Wawrinka leads H2H 2-1)
Stan Wawrinka has lost twice since becoming the US Open champion, and both losses have come to members of the Zverev family. One of them lurks in his Paris Masters quarter: Basel semifinalist Mischa Zverev. Nevertheless, elder Zverev brother faces a tough opener in John Isner and a potential clash with no. 15 seed David Ferrer before a rematch against Wawrinka could occur.
Having already qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals, Wawrinka – who seemed to lose desire in the latter stages of his Swiss Indoors defeat – may not compete in Paris. If he did, he would be eased into the event with an opener against Illya Marchenko or a qualifier.
Dominic Thiem, meanwhile, has looked flat-out exhausted since Flushing Meadows – and admitted to an overloaded schedule after his US Open retirement. Nevertheless, he has by no means cut back on competitions entered since New York. Losses to Lucas Pouille, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Alexander Zverev and Viktor Troicki have come earlier and earlier in the draws. And as he continues to seek London qualification, Thiem is practically sleep-walking. A second round against either Philipp Kohlschreiber or Jack Sock is going to be tough to win, with resurgent no. 12 seed Richard Gasquet potentially awaiting in the round of 16 should the Austrian survive.
SEMIFINALIST: Richard Gasquet
Projected quarter-final: Milos Raonic  vs Kei Nishikori  (Nishikori leads H2H 5-2)
Still going in Basel at the time of writing, Nishikori will be grateful for his first round bye in Paris. The Japanese star has been known to produce his best tennis at the end of a season – perhaps due to lengthy injury breaks throughout the year – and has displayed great mentality in Switzerland thus far. Once he has crossed the border, his second round match will come against local Wild Card Adrian Mannarino or Serbia’s Viktor Troicki – who has upended both Rafael Nadal and Thiem in recent weeks.
Nishikori’s projected third round is a clash with no. 11 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – and the home star is likely to come out all guns blazing. Also a finalist at the weekend – in Vienna – Tsonga has the slimmest of opportunities to qualify for London’s elite eight, and must go the distance in Paris in order to do so.
On the other side of the quarter, Milos Raonic – who is seeded no. 4, but has looked underwhelming since New York – will begin his campaign against either hot-and-cold Fabio Fognini or underrated Pablo Carreno Busta. The world no. 4 probably landed the easiest route to the last eight, with no. 16 seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay his predicted third round opponent.
SEMIFINALIST: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Projected quarter-final: Andy Murray  vs Tomas Berdych  (Murray leads H2H 9-6)
If Fabio Fognini is hot-and-cold, then Fernando Verdasco is blazing-and-freezing. Capable of lethal brilliance and swift wayward losses, the former world no. 7 is no cert to progress beyond his first round draw of a qualifier. If he does, however, the Spanish lefty will know what it takes to upset world no. 2 Andy Murray. The world no. 45 has done so twice before – but has also suffered 11 losses to the reigning Wimbledon champion.
With Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal absent from yet another draw, Novak Djokovic safely in the opposite half once again, and even Stan Wawrinka – seeded no. 3 – falling into the top seed’s section, Murray is once again eyeing the type of draw that has aided his pursuit of the no. 1 ranking. Feliciano Lopez may be a quality third round opponent, but the Brit always seems to come out on the right end of their clashes. And as for his projected quarter-final, Murray is 95 percent assured of success. Probable opponent Tomas Berdych may have led their rivalry once, but the no. 2 seed has not given the big-hitting Czech a look-in during any of their last five meetings. No. 10 seed Bautista Agut or home hope Gilles Simon – who pushed the Scot in Vienna – would probably be more likely to test the in-form Brit. But are any of them seriously likely to close out a win over a motivated Murray?
SEMIFINALIST: Andy Murray
EVENT CHAMPION: My heart says Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. My gut says Andy Murray. My head says Novak Djokovic.
And I’m going with my head. No pressure, Nole.
Thanks for reading! Who are your picks for Paris success, and what do you think of those above? Discuss in the comments section below!