Paris – Day 1 (1R)
Perhaps it’s my favorite ‘Masters 100’ event because of its specific structure. It’s the only tournament of the series with the 48-draw. It means there aren’t accidental players in the main draw, it’s the most selective ‘Masters 1000’ event with strong field already in qualifying tournament, relatively easy to follow because all matches are played only on two courts. It’s a special tournament for me because 21 years ago it was the first such a big tournament I witnessed.
It was a good day for the Parisian crowd, “wild cards” Julien Benneteau , Adrian Mannarino  and qualifier Nicolas Mahut , all won their matches in good style. Benneteau couldn’t break a powerful Milos Raonic‘s serve through two sets (Raonic fired 22 in total), but held his service games comfortably throughout the match and converted a break point in the first game in which he had the opportunity (at 2:2 in the 3rd set) to win 6-7, 7-6, 6-4 playing three successful dropshots in the last game. Later on, Mahut and Mannarino dismissed their opponents, especially Mahut’s easy win over Juan Carlos Ferrero was surprising – 6-2, 6-3 despite Ferrer* had a break advantage in both sets. Mahut finished the match with 3 consecutive aces (10 in total). In the most interesting match on court No. 1, Andreas Seppi  ousted Nikolay Davydenko in two tight sets, the former champion squandered a set point in the 1st set and a mini-set point in the 2nd set, producing two double faults in the last game. Davydenko who played in quarter-finals last year and the final in Doha at the start of this season, will probably drop outside Top 50 in January 2012 for the first time since 2004.
Actually everything is clear in the context of getting the last three spots for ‘Masters’ in London: these three spots are almost guaranteed for Berdych, Fish & Tsonga. The scenario is simple: Almagro & Tipsarevic must get the final to have a chance, the local favorites Simon and Monfils must win the title to have a chance. The strongest contender Del Potro (he needed to advance to the final to have a chance) pulled out due to injury he suffered last week. Del Potro: “My shoulder started bothering me in Valencia and it got worse after each round.” Among the Top 20 guys, earlier withdrew also Robin Soderling (hasn’t played a match since July) and Rafael Nadal, who never won the title in Paris and wants to prepare himself to ‘Masters’ and Davis Cup final.
Seven players to fight for the last three spots:
6. Tomas Berdych – 2,940
7. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – 2,935
8. Mardy Fish – 2,875
9. Nicolas Almagro – 2,370
10. Juan Martin del Potro – 2,315 (withdrew)
11. Janko Tipsarevic – 2,305
12. Gilles Simon – 2,155
13. Robin Soderling – 2,120 (withdrew)
14. Gael Monfils – 1,925
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