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Tough draw for French players

Text by REUTERS

Latest update : 2008-10-26

Jeremy Chardy, one of the tournament’s wild cards, will face Spain’s Tommy Robredo. Paul-Henri Mathieu will play against Russia’s Igor Andreev and Mark Gicquel is set to face Czech Radek Stepanek.

PARIS - Top 10 newcomers Juan Martin Del Potro and Gilles Simon will be keen to extend brilliant runs of form in the Paris Masters Series tournament starting on Sunday, with trips to the Masters Cup at stake.

Five players have already booked a ticket to Shanghai for next month's season-ending event featuring the world's top eight players.


The last three spots will be decided in the French capital with Argentine Del Potro and Frenchman Simon, who both recently broke into the world's top 10 with impressive spells, well placed to grab one each.

The 20-year-old Del Potro, winner of four titles since July, has moved up to seventh in the ATP Race standings, just behind American Andy Roddick, who was knocked out by Swede Robin Soderling in the quarter-finals in Lyon on Friday.

Simon, who caught attention with his run to the Madrid final last week, has climbed to eighth in the Race and is also a strong candidate for Shanghai.

The 23-year-old all-rounder, who knocked out world number one Rafael Nadal in the Madrid semi-finals, will have home advantage in Paris, where he will try to become the first Frenchman to win the title since Sebastien Grosjean in 2001.

Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, in-form Andy Murray and Nikolay Davydenko have already made sure of Masters Cup berths and will have little to play for in Paris.

All of them, however, are in the draw, which features all the world's top 15 players except Chilean Fernando Gonzalez.

The situation is a relief for the organisers of an event that has often been hurt by high-profile casualties over the past few years.

Nadal, already certain of finishing the year at number one, and Federer, who lost the top spot to the Spaniard this season, may not be as motivated as Del Potro and Simon.

Spain's David Ferrer and American James Blake, respectively ninth and 10th in the Race before this weekend's semi-final and final action in Basel, Lyon and St Petersburg, are also in contention for a Masters Cup slot.

A handful of other players stand an outside chance, among them Argentine David Nalbandian, who played close to perfection on the carpet of the Bercy hall last year and crushed Nadal in the final.

Fitness will be the key, with last-minute withdrawals still a possibility.

"It's a long season," Roddick said in Lyon this week. "Whoever tells you he's not tired is lying."
 

Date created : 2008-10-25

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