The final true tournament of the 2022 ATP calendar resides in Paris. The 1000-event features Carlos Alcaraz, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, among others, and will ultimately cap off the tennis season for the players who aren’t competing in the ATP Finals, Next Gen Finals and/or Davis Cup.
The tournament has also featured some intriguing three-set matches, including a few on Wednesday.
So, how are things playing out? Who has the best chance of winning this event? And what players can use their current momentum for the January Aussie swing to start the 2023 campaign?
Players Who Are Having Great End to Season
There are players who are just playing on another level right now, and those include:
- Denis Shapovalov
- Felix Auger-Aliassime
- Mikael Ymer
- Holger Rune
- Lorenzo Musetti
Shapovalov has really come into his own since making the final in Seoul. While he lost to Pablo Carreno Busta on Wednesday, he took the Spaniard to three sets. He also made the final in Vienna last week and reached the semifinals in Tokyo earlier in this hard-court swing.
What has really helped the Canadian succeed, is keeping his outbreaks under wrap. Instead, he’s channeling that energy into his game and his power on both wings.
Here’s another Canadian who is on a monster run. FAA is the hottest player in tennis right now, as he’s captured three titles in a row and is in the midst of a 14-match win streak.
On Wednesday, Felix barley escaped Ymer in a match that featured a third-set tiebreak and over three hours of tennis.
I’ve criticized Felix on this site multiple times during the summer for his shaky and inconsistent play, but the man is on fire right now and looks like one of the best players in the sport. Remember, he’s beaten Alcaraz twice during the latter part of the year.
Speaking of Ymer, the Swede has been absolutely terrific and is playing some of the best tennis of his career. His turnaround started in the Davis Cup, as he defeated Diego Schwartzman in straight sets and Jannik Sinner in three sets.
Since then, he’s reached the quarters in Metz, the semis in Florence and another quarterfinal in Stockholm. He lost to Felix on Wednesday, but there’s nothing to be ashamed of with that performance.
Showing greater offensive ability means good things to come for Ymer.
Let’s move on to Rune, who at 19 years old has really come into his own over the last couple of months. He’s up to a career-high ranking on 18 thanks to an appearance in the final in Basel, a tournament title in Stockholm and a finals appearance in Sofia.
Rune has been gritty in a lot of his matches, especially against Roberto Bautista Agut, when he owned clutch points against the Spaniard.
On Wednesday, Rune smoked Hubert Hurkacz, and that’s not a result we’re taking lightly. Rune truly has the ability to end up in the mix with Alcaraz and Sinner as the best young player in the world, and is a contender to win this event in Paris.
Musetti isn’t known for his abilities on hard courts, but he has certainly proven doubters wrong during this European swing. The Italian served masterfully in his win over Marin Cilic here in Paris and made quick work of Nikoloz Basilashvili (1:09) in his second-round match on Wednesday.
He lost his opening-round duel in Basel, but won the tournament in Naples (over Matteo Berrettini) and reached the semis in Florence and Sofia.
Things are looking positive for the Italian.
One Final Run for Simon
Taylor Fritz was -850 to beat Gilles Simon on Wednesday. Instead of blowing out the Frenchman, Fritz lost in three sets (5-7, 7-5, 4-6).
This is Simon’s final tournament of his career, and he’s making the most of his wild card berth. Simon beat Andy Murray in the opening round and upset Fritz thanks to his lack of unforced errors and steady play.
Simon certainly doesn’t look ready to retire, even at 37 years of age.
But next up is FAA.
And that’s the worst possible draw for Simon. Felix has played a lot of tennis of late, but Simon also just played over three hours of tennis at his “advanced” age.
Paul Gets Better of Nadal
Tommy Paul has put together a career season in 2022, including a Round of 16 appearance at Wimbledon. But the American hasn’t lived up to his potential during this indoor hard-court swing, playing ugly tennis in Stockholm and choking away his opening-round match against Dominic Thiem in Vienna.
He also got bageled in the opening-set of his only meeting vs. Rafael Nadal.
So, that’s why a lot of people weren’t expecting much from Paul on Wednesday.
Well, those people turned out to be wrong, as the American came back down a set to upset Nadal in Paris. This came one round after a dominating straight-set performance against RBA.
We already know about Paul’s athleticism, footwork and talent, but he displayed an efficient and effective net game vs. Nadal, and his fitness appeared to give Rafa some trouble, especially in that third set.
Paul now has to face his third straight Spaniard (Carreno Busta), but I like his chances to pull off what will likely be another upset. He’s playing with great confidence, and if he uses his net game and fitness to his advantage, that will keep Carreno Busta from dictating points.