The last tourney of the year is upon us! The Paris-Bercy event IS a Masters 1000 tournament but it seldom gets attended like one. The last few years have seen some serious long-shots in the winners’ circle and holding the second-place plaque (those who read this column would have hit Karen Khachanov 33/1 last year at this event). A Masters event with winners like Khachanov, Jack Sock, David Ferrer and finalists like John Isner, Filip Krajinovic and Jerzy Janowicz means there is the possibility for money to be made.
This year’s event has surprisingly drawn all the big names… for now. Each quarter has one of the new Big Four and the layout looks like a Slam. Whether players like Federer and Thiem actually make first ball is another question that we’ll address as we go.
The first quarter is headlined, as usual, by Novak Djokovic. He has won this event four times and made the final last year, losing after an exhausting semi-final with Federer. Whether he cares about this event or not is questionable. He has stated as recently as this summer, all he cares about now are Slams. He has ground to make up on Nadal and Federer and with a body that continues to trouble him, he needs to be saving up for those. Additionally, the London year-end finals loom in two weeks and they will be far more of a feather in the cap than this Bercy title. And while his section of the quarter does not look daunting, the bottom half of his quarter does hold some challenges. Alex DeMinaur just made the Basel final and has three titles to his name. DeMinaur, likewise though, may suffer from look-ahead disease. He is scheduled to play in Milan at the #nextGen finals and with this event sandwiched in-between he could be an early upset pick. RBA has beaten Djokovic twice this year and is currently a top ten player so he is no pushover for the Serb. What’s concerning about RBA are his results on the Asian Swing post-US Open. RBA has lost to Opelka, Querrey, DeMinaur (badly) and Kukushkin. So, maybe his form is not the best. Someone who is in good form is Stefanos Tsitsipas. Like RBA he has had recent success against Djokovic, beating him last year in Toronto and this year in Shanghai. Tsitty, post US-Open, has gone final in Beijing, semi-final in Shanghai, and semi-final in Basel. Those three losses were to Thiem, Meds, Fed, all three eventual tourney winners. There is nothing wrong with that. At 22/1 Tsitty is the pick to win the event and upset Djoker along the way.
The second quarter is head-lined by Medvedev. He is being priced like a Big Four member, at 4/1 to win it all and there doesn’t seem to be an impediment in his quarter. Thiem is the other big seed but Thiem is coming off a title in his home nation of Austria and it would not surprise, given London on the horizon, for Thiem to withdraw from Bercy. Meds has also played a ton of tennis and a potential path of Thiem, Djoker/Tsitty, Fed/Nadal (barring no withdraws) does not look appetizing. If Meds is your guy you should probably entertain a moneyline rollover throughout the tourney, as it should eclipse 4/1. One number to look at is Meds +100 to win the second quarter. Should Thiem withdraw or get upset early this becomes a cake-walk to the semis. Meds is the only one of the new Big Four to be priced at plus money to win his quarter and that feels like a great number.
The third quarter is head-lined by Federer. As just stated above, he is a major withdrawal threat. He has been gifted a pretty easy quarter but he stated in his Basel press conference he was already looking ahead to London and may not play Bercy. So, don’t be surprised if he no-shows or gets upset early. The other big name in the quarter is Alex Zverev. Unfortunately, with Zverev it has become increasingly hard to decipher whether he has the confidence to win on any given day. He rolls through events, then, for instance, gets trucked by Medvedev in a final. The next week, he goes out in round one to Taylor Fritz. There is no telling if he, like some of his compatriots, will be looking ahead to London or if he will be focused on this event. Instead, the third quarter looks ripe for the long-shot pick. Someone who is playing well on the back half of the calendar is Denis Shapovalov. He banked his first title in Stockholm two weeks ago and given his very underwhelming 2019 campaign, and his ageing out of the Milan qualification, he is someone looking to make waves. His form is solid, he is good on hard courts, he is uber-motivated and at 66/1 he is a decent pick to make it out of a quarter that could be a mess if Fed withdraws and Zverev is looking at the horizon.
The fourth quarter is loaded! Khachanov, Tsonga, Wawrinka, Rublev, Berrettini, Nadal. A lot of big names. The biggest one though is Nadal. He usually doesn’t play in this portion of the season, instead, saving that wear-and-tear for the Aussie Open but, he is rested up having not played since the Laver Cup and he’s been in town for a while, practising with Novak. He seems motivated and if Federer does withdraw, +200 to make the finals looks very appealing. There are big names to get through but he showed in Melbourne and Montreal, as long as it is not Novak or Fed, he can still handle anyone on hard courts. If Fed plays and these two meet in the semis, you hedge this as fast as you can!
Tsitsipas 22/1 outright, x0.5
Shapo 66/1 outright, x0.5
Medvedev +100 to win 2nd quarter
Nadal +200 to make final