Seldom has so much been riding on the final week of the regular ATP World Tour season. The stakes at this week’s BNP Paribas Masters in Paris-Bercy, have never been higher.
Riding a 15-match winning streak, Andy Murray could overtake Novak Djokovic as World No. 1. But the margins are so thin that Djokovic has the opportunity to clinch the coveted year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking for the third consecutive year. And this is for certain: The final ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event of the year will determine the last two spots at the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Murray, who has spent 76 weeks at No. 2 since first reaching the mark in 2009, can finally go to No. 1 in one of two ways: First, if he wins the Paris title and Djokovic does not reach the final. Or, Murray reaches the final and Djokovic doesn’t reach the semi-finals.
But Djokovic won’t be focused on playing defense in Paris. The Serb, can clinch year-end No. 1 for the fifth time in six years if he wins the Paris title and Murray does not reach the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, seven players are battling in Paris for the final two places at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. But only four of those players have destiny in their own hands. Dominic Thiem, who is hoping to make his first appearance at The O2, and Marin Cilic must reach the Paris final to guarantee a place in London. But drawn together in the top half, only one can possibly reach the final. And even that won’t be easy as they are in the same half as top seed Djokovic.
Tomas Berdych and potential debutante David Goffin can both guarantee a spot at The O2 if they win the title.
The other three players in contention - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Roberto Bautista Agut and Luca Pouille - must win the title and hope for other results to fall their way to make it to London.
So keep a close eye on Paris. It promises to be the most dramatic week of the season so far, and here are all the storylines...
Murray Eyes No. 1: Andy Murray comes into Paris on a 15-match winning streak after winning consecutive titles in Beijing and ATP Masters 1000 Shanghai and in Vienna on Sunday. During the streak Murray has won 28 of 30 sets played. His seven titles this season is a career-best and he’s co-leader (w/Djokovic) on the ATP World Tour. Murray is trying to catch Novak Djokovic and reach No. 1 for the first time.
The Brit trails Djokovic by only 415 points in the Emirates ATP Race To London and will become No. 1 if he wins the title and Djokovic does not reach the final. He can also move ahead by making the final if Djokovic does not clear the quarter-finals.
And while attention is on Murray’s quest to rise to No. 1 for the first time, Djokovic this week could clinch the coveted year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking for the third consecutive year and fifth time overall.