Paris, France, and the BNP Paribas Masters sees the 2017 season draw to a close after ten long months. Last year's winner Andy Murray called time on his season due to injury along with other top stars. Rafael Nadal, the top seed, and Marin Cilic the third seeds respectively will lead the field this week while Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Lucas Pouille will be the only home players seeded this year at number 11 and 17.
Roger Federer, who was due to play this event as the second seed decided to withdraw as a result of winning the Basel title, meaning Nadal has secured the number one spot on the ATP World Tour. The Swiss maestro, who has captured eight titles this season will now focus on the World Tour Finals in a few weeks time.
While the season may be coming to an end, there are still two places on the ATP World Tour Finals to be decided. Belgium's David Goffin and Pablo Carreno Busta hold the final places as Stan Wawrinka in seventh is currently out injured and will not be partaking. There are currently up to more than five other players still in with a chance of making the Finals in London but will need a deep run here this week to even stand a chance.
Top seed Rafael Nadal not only headlines this opening quarter but also the whole tournament. The Spaniard has never won the tournament here in Paris and after an astonishing season with six major titles, he will be hoping to head into London with his third Master's title. He's been given a wildcard and plays either Mischa Zverev or Hyeon Chung and should see himself safely through that match. Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas faces NextGen star Karen Khachanov with left-hander and 15th seed Albert-Ramos Vinolas awaiting in the second round.
On the other side of this quarter is two London hopefuls, Sam Querrey and Carreno Busta. Both have been given relatively kind draws. The tenth-seeded American will face either the qualifier Filip Krajinovic or Yuichi Sugita in the second round, and the big server should be no match for either player. Eighth-seeded Carreno Busta has a slightly tougher draw. He faces Vasek Pospisil, the qualifier or local Frenchman Nicolas Mahut, who is capable of upsetting the odds on his day. With two London hopefuls in the same quarter, they should come through their second-round match and expect fireworks in a tense match as both battles for that London place.
With Nadal choosing to skip Basel this year, expect the 14-time Grand Slam champion to hit form from the off and advance to the quarterfinals, where he could be tested by either Querrey or fellow countryman Pablo Carreno Busta. But nonetheless, the Spaniard will be looking to build on some late-season form as his stock rises for the Tour Finals in two-weeks time.
Quarterfinal: Rafael Nadal-Sam Querrey
Semifinalist: Rafael Nadal
In a packed quarter, fourth seed and first time Tour Finals qualifier anchor's this second quarter with 13th seed Juan Martin Del Potro, ninth seed John Isner and sixth seed Grigor Dimitrov at the bottom of this draw. The German has clinched two Masters title and reached a career-high and though he fell to an inspired Tsonga in Vienna, he will be the one to beat. He opens up against Steve Johnson or Robin Haase, a match he should come through quite comfortably. He could set up a match with the Tower of Tandil, who potentially faces qualifier Joao Sousa or Paolo Lorenzi of Italy and should be expected to come through that match quite easily.
On the other side of this second quarter is the big-serving American, Isner. With a bye into the second round, he also could face a tricky opponent in the second round with Diego Schwartzman and Viktor Troicki doing battle, so will need his weapons firing. Bulgarian Dimitrov is the latest to qualify and book his place at the Finals in London, which will give him confidence in Paris. The 26-year-old is guaranteed a Frenchman with Richard Gasquet and Benoit Paire facing off in the first round in what expects to be a lively match for the locals in Paris.
With this section packed with talent and big-hitters, anything is possible. The Argentine is arguably the form player in this draw but heading into what could be his final tournament of the year, he could be fatigued or even buoyed by his Basel run. Don't expect the seeds in to have it all their own way in this quarter. So, don't be surprised if the unseeded players come up trumps.
Quarterfinal: Alexander Zverev-Diego Schwartzman
Semifinalist: Alexander Zverev
Eighth seed and another London hopeful David Goffin top the third quarter. Also in this draw is Tsonga, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Marin Cilic. At the top is the seventh-seeded Goffin who faces the winner of Adrian Mannarino and David Ferrer. Both can cause trouble to the Belgium who since his horrific injury in Paris, has found form and will be an intriguing second round clash. Vienna finalist and 2008 Bercy champion Tsonga opens his campaign against the winner of wildcard Julien Benneteau or Canadian rising star Denis Shapovalov. The 32-year-old should be tested by either player but also should advance to the third round.
The bottom half of this draw sees three of the qualifiers placed. The Spaniard Bautista Agut has the winner of Gilles Simon and Jeremy Chardy while the Croat Cilic is guaranteed to face a qualifier in the second round as Jan-Lennard Struff takes on Borna Coric. The third-seeded Croat is likely to be slightly tested but he should advance to the third round with little problem. For the 29-year-old, he could be troubled by Simon or Chardy, that is depending which Frenchman turns up on the day. But do expect him to advance nonetheless.
With Tsonga love-affair with Paris and a place at the London Tour Finals on the line, this would be the perfect opportunity for him to produce the goods on the big stage but with the tendency to crumble on home soil, this could go either way. Overall, he should be looking to make the quarterfinals where a solid Cilic could await in a mouth-watering clash of the big hitters.
Quarterfinal: David Ferrer-Marin Cilic
Semifinalist: David Ferrer
The final quarter with Roger Federer choosing to withdraw is now headlined by Lucas Pouille, who takes the Swiss spot and gains a bye. Jack Sock, the 16th seed is also in the Frenchman's draw. At the top sees Dominic Thiem and Kevin Anderson occupy the spots. Austrian Thiem faces American Ryan Harrison or the Lucky Loser Peter Gojowczyk and with the weapons he produces, he should progress into the third round. Big-serving African Kevin Anderson has a tough second-round match. He awaits the winner of Fernando Verdasco or Russian rising star Andrey Rublev, who has had a breakthrough year winning the title in Umag, Croatia earlier.
In the bottom quarter, Jack Sock now faces either Kyle Edmund or the Lucky Loser Russian Evgeny Donskoy in the second round. The big-hitting 25-year-old should progress into the third round where he could face Pouille, who may benefit from having a bye into the second round. With the home crowd backing their local man, Sock will have to be on top form if he is to make a deep run and reach the quarterfinals but can also silence the crowd with his scintillating play.
With this final quarter now wide open following Federer's decision to skip the tournament and focus on London, Thiem would be the outright favorite to advance but with the World Tour Finals on his mind and possible fatigue, he may slip up to allow a unseeded player a chance to end their season on a high. This quarter may feature one or two upsets and is anyone's game.
Quarterfinal: Kevin Anderson-Jack Sock
Semifinalist: Kevin Anderson
Semifinal: Rafael Nadal def. Alexander Zverev, David Ferrer def. Kevin Anderson
Final: Rafael Nadal def. David Ferrer