Rolex Paris Masters: What to look out for …

 - Alex Sharp

Recent Roland-Garros champion Rafael Nadal leads a world class field in Bercy for the last Masters 1000 of 2020.

Rafael Nadal, mi-songeur, mi-attentif à ce que lui dit Francisco Roig, son coach.©Christophe Guibbaud/FFT

Paris is once again centre of attention on the tennis world’s stage.

The final Masters 1000 is upon us and with eight of the Top 10 players lining up, it’s set to be another captivating edition of the Rolex Paris Masters, with the main draw bursting into life on Monday.

Who can prolong their season with a final flourish in Paris? Here is what to look out for at the AccorHotels Arena.

Nadal at the double?


Rafael Nadal tearing through the draw for a 13th Roland-Garros title feels like yesterday, but the Spaniard has returned to the French capital in the hunt for a prestigious double.

It was only three weeks ago Nadal dismantled world No.1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets to tie Roger Federer with 20 majors on top of the men’s all-time list.

The 34-year-old has seven different Masters 1000 titles in his trophy cabinet and should he hold the Tree of Fanti trophy aloft next weekend, Nadal will join Djokovic with a record 36 titles at this level.

Nadal’s furthest progress in Bercy was a runner-up spot to David Nalbandian on debut back in 2007.

If the Spaniard can overcome his first opponent, Nadal will become only the fourth player in the Open Era to post 1000 career match wins.

Could it be another milestone week in Paris for Nadal?

Rafael Nadal practicing on the very first day at the Accor Arena ahead of the Rolex Paris Masters 2020©Christophe Guibbaud/FFT

Gaston back in the spotlight

One of the fascinating stories to blossom at Roland-Garros last month was the emergence of Hugo Gaston.

The Frenchman’s fluid game style and persistence with the drop shot gained a plethora of plaudits, making the sport look so simple with his impeccable timing and all-court craft.

Remember, the 20-year-old stunned 2015 Roland-Garros champion Stan Wawrinka, prior to a pulsating five-set battle with world No.3 Dominic Thiem in the last 16.

Gaston, on main draw debut, clipped over 58 drop shots during that enthralling contest (with 40 successes), and drew in 5.6 million viewers on French TV.

Let’s hope Gaston can replicate those box office performances as a wild card this week.

Hugo Gaston shouting Roland-Garros 2020©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Humbert on the hunt

Another Frenchman has sparkled in recent weeks. Ugo Humbert has assembled a stellar 2020 and is thriving on the indoor scene.

The 22-year-old shrugged off an opening round defeat at Roland-Garros to move over to Russia. At the St. Petersburg Open the world No.32 was narrowly edged 7-5 in the decider by the red-hot Andrey Rublev.

Over to Belgium and Humbert was a man on a mission, striking with conviction, particularly off a piercing forehand wing, to land the second title of his breakout season in Antwerp.

Four Top 100 players fell to his versatility, including world No.15 Pablo Carreno Busta and then a 6-1, 7-6(4) scoreline over Australian Alex de Minaur in the final.

Humbert is the leading home charge with Adrian Mannarino, Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon flying the French flag. Benjamin Bonzi, Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Corentin Moutet and Gaston represent the home contingent as wild cards.

Matteo Berretini looking up at Roland-Garros 2020©Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Launch to London

The elite stars have already booked their ticket to the season finale at the ATP Finals in mid-November.

However, two positions still remain, with Rublev, Diego Schwartzman and Matteo Berrettini vying for the essential points in Paris.

World No.8 Rublev, with a season leading four titles with Djokovic, is in pole position having also reached the Vienna semi-finals with victory over defending champion Thiem on Friday.

The Russian’s run in Austria takes the race down to Bercy, with world No.9 Schwartzman (3,285) just 210 ranking points ahead of Italian Berrettini.

Elsewhere 2018 champion Karen Khachanov will be eager to harness those memories, with 2015 Roland-Garros champion Stan Wawrinka also in contention.

Grigor Dimitrov, having toppled Khachanov and then Stefanos Tsitsipas from a set down in Vienna this week, has catapulted some outstanding shots. The 2017 ATP Finals champion is certainly one to keep an eye on in Bercy.