The final full field ATP tournament of the season takes place starting today in Paris on indoor hard courts as all but the ATP top 8 conclude their 2015 season. A host of players have posted solid Fall seasons and appear to have form, and fitness, going into Paris, while others are already ready for the off season.
5: Ivo Karlovic
Ivo Karlovic is 36 years old and remains a top 30 player after a 38-24 2015 season that matches his excellent results in 2014. The big serving Croatian relishes the chance to play serve and volley tennis on indoor hard and will begin his Paris Masters campaign against home French qualifier Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Presuming he defeats ERV, he’ll have a great shot at an upset against Tomas Berdych in round 2. Berdych has struggled against Karlovic given their similar frames in the past, and with the Czech set to play in the World Tour Finals next week he may be looking ahead. Karlovic has wins over Berdych, Stan Wawrinka (last week in Basel), Milos Raonic, and Novak Djokovic this season, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga would be his third round opponent. Karlovic has a punchers chance against just about any opponent, and he could well reach the quarterfinals this week as a non-seed. If he does so it will be his third straight European fall indoors quarterfinal.
4: Jack Sock
Jack Sock posted a career best ranking inside the top 25 this fall, and he’s had a career best season with a 33-17 record. The American still has time to develop and his world class forehand pushed him to a quarterfinal in Beijing, a final in Stockholm, and a semifinal in Basel this fall. Fatigue could play a factor, but this season has demonstrated Sock can regularly compete with the ATP’s elite. He’ll have winnable first and second round matches against Viktor Troicki and Feliciano Lopez but things should get more difficult against Stan Wawrinka in the third round. No matter what happens this week, American tennis fans can take pride in Sock going into 2016.
3: Richard Gasquet
The versatile Gasquet is back in the top 10 after putting together a 41-16 2015 campaign with a pair of ATP titles. On home soil the Frenchman with a one of the best backhands in tennis has a great chance to go as far as the semifinals, especially if Kei Nishikori goes out early and his section opens up. The path for Reeshy is Martin Klizan/Leonardo Mayer, Nishikori or a fellow Frenchman (Jeremy Chardy/Lucas Pouille) and Andy Murray/David Goffin in the quarterfinals. Gasquet tends to play well in Paris and his h2h is competitive against Murray. With everything to play for and nothing to lose look for the Stockholm and Basel quarterfinalist to keep home hopes alive late in the week.
2: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
If he weren’t due to face Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals I’d have picked Tsonga as the last French player to remain in the Paris draw. Tsonga is 31-14 this year plays well on home soil (won an ATP title in Metz this fall), and reached the ATP Shanghai Masters final not long ago. The entertaining Frenchman has stabilized his game and the dangerously in-form Roberto Bautista Agut is likely out of gas in round 2. From there Berdych/Karlovic loom large, but if he wins that he’ll earn the right to get yet another shot at Djokovic with a positive h2h record. If Djokovic is going to lose before the semis, Tsonga has the best chance to upset him. Jo just missed out on the World Tour Finals but he’s a solid competitor at the Masters level and you can’t count him out to make a run.
1: Marin Cilic
Marin Cilic reached the semifinals of this years US Open and hasn’t slowed down since with two ATP quarterfinals, a semifinal, and an ATP title in Moscow to close out the year. The Croatian had the first part of his season clipped short due to a shoulder injury, but he appears to finally be returning to the caliber of tennis that won him the 2014 US Open title. Cilic is a dangerous and powerful opponent who should defeat Grigor Dimitrov for a shot at David Ferrer round 3. Ferrer could be exhausted and Cilic would benefit from this and reach the quarterfinals.
5: Viktor Troicki
The top 30 Serbian is 4-11 since the grass court season, and after a strong start to his year, the quality of his tennis has entirely collapsed. Troicki opens with Jack Sock, an in-form opponent, and he’s perhaps the player who would most like the season to end at this point, with a chance to regain his form next season. Troicki is one of the more streaky players on the ATP.
4: Grigor Dimitrov
New coach Franco Davin has his work cut out for him with the talented but underachieving Grigor Dimitrov. Dimitrov is just 30-21 this year and is in danger of slipping from the top 40 after nearly challenging for top 10 status not that long ago. The wheels have come off for Grisha and he hasn’t reached an ATP semifinal in the second half of 2015. Marin Cilic should send him packing unless Pablo Carreno Busta does so first. Dimitrov remains Bulgaria’s #1 but he’s losing market share overall.
3: Andy Murray
Andy Murray in his top 5 career has never advanced past the quarterfinals of ATP Paris and with the World Tour Finals and Davis Cup final looming, he’s unlikely to improve on that mark this season, as those tournaments take priority for him. Murray could go out to Borna Coric in round 2, given Coric beat him in Dubai back in the spring, or he could be ousted by David Goffin or Richard Gasquet in the next two rounds after that.
2: John Isner
The American #1 is 2-2 in his last two tournaments and Roger Federer looms large in round 2. Isner has posted a top 15 season but he looks ready to get back stateside and rest up at this point, thus I don’t expect him to challenge Federer much in round 3.
1: Kei Nishikori
Nishikori hasn’t been entirely healthy or focused since the US Open Series, and his semifinal in Tokyo aside, he’s performed far below his top 10 ranking this fall. It’s been a bit of a disappointing year for the Japanese #1, and with World Tour Finals looming for him as well, I would not be surprised to see Frenchman Lucas Pouille or Jeremy Chardy defeat him in round 2, and if not Richard Gasquet should send him off to London.