Tournament Preview: Paris Masters
Tournament Preview: Paris Masters

The ninth and final ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the 2018 season begins Monday in Paris. There are plenty of intriguing storylines in this indoor, hard-court tournament as some spots in the ATP Finals are still up for grabs and the No. 1 ranking could change hands. Read on for a preview of what to watch for, as well as which players are on upset alert and which ones are primed for big runs.

STOCK UP

Novak Djokovic - Djokovic has won each of the last two Masters 1000 tournaments (Cincinnati and Shanghai), and he comes into Paris with a great chance to overtake Rafael Nadal for the world's top ranking. Nadal has a 215-point lead, but the Spaniard's defending 180 points from last year's quarterfinal run here, leaving him with just a 35-point edge. Whichever guy gets further will be No. 1 by the end of the week, and it's hard not to favor Djokovic on a hard court. Djokovic is seeded to play rising youngster Stefanos Tsitsipas in his second match, but Tsitsipas will be hard-pressed to repeat his Rogers Cup upset of Djokovic with the Serb focused on reclaiming the world's top spot.

Kevin Anderson - The final two spots in the race to London are still up for grabs, with 805 ranking points separating seventh place Marin Cilic (3,825) and 10th place John Isner (3,020). The top eight qualify for the ATP Finals in London, and with that qualification comes the opportunity to claim up to 1,500 additional ranking points, so making it to London is of the utmost importance for the players on the borderline. Anderson would have been in this group as well, but he locked in his spot by winning in Vienna last week, taking out Kei Nishikori 6-3, 7-6 (3) in the finals. The big-serving South African is seeded to face Nishikori again in the Round of 16, giving him a nice opportunity to convert his momentum into another impressive result.

STOCK DOWN

Grigor Dimitrov - Dimitrov's the perfect example of the value of making the ATP Finals, as he's outside the top-20 in 2018 rankings but still seeded ninth thanks to his points from the tail end of 2017. He's the most vulnerable seed in the top-10, coming off a first-round exit in Vienna at the hands of Mikhail Kukushkin. Seeded players have a bye into the second round, but the winner of the Roberto Bautista Agut-Steve Johnson match will have a great shot at knocking off Dimitrov in Round 2.

Diego Schwartzman - Of the 16 seeded players at this tournament, Schwartzman probably has the lowest upside. The 5-foot-7, 141-pounder doesn't have the imposing physical tools that make life easy in indoor conditions, and the drawmakers did him no favors by placing him in Alexander Zverev's section. Schwartzman will have to beat the winner of rising star Alex de Minaur and serving-specialist Feliciano Lopez just to possibly get to Zverev.

SLEEPERS

Denis Shapovalov - On its face, Shapovalov's draw looks terrible -- he faces a higher-ranked player in Round 1, the defending champ in Round 2, and then likely the World No. 1 in Round 3. Sounds pretty rough, right? Well, first-round opponent Richard Gasquet is ranked only one spot higher than the young Canadian, defending champ Jack Sock has been a mess since claiming last year's Paris title with a 7-19 record in 2018, and this will be Nadal's first tournament since he pulled out of the US Open semifinals due to a knee injury. Indoor conditions tend to benefit big servers like Shapovalov, so he could produce a deep run here if things break right.

Daniil Medvedev - Medvedev's coming off a strong showing in Basel, where he reached the semifinals before falling to local hero Roger Federer. The Russian has a golden opportunity to keep the good times rolling here. Up first, he'll face Pablo Carreno Busta, who comes in on a three-match losing streak. Next up would be Borna Coric, who just pulled out of his quarterfinal match in Vienna with a foot injury. Should Medvedev get through that match, he'd likely face Dominic Thiem, who also reached the quarterfinals in Vienna before getting blown out 6-3, 6-1 by Nishikori.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sasha Yodashkin
Sasha Yodashkin writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire
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