Rolex Paris Masters: Draw Preview and Predictions
By: Vikram Khandelwal
The Paris Masters is here in 2021! Luckily, the pandemic didn’t take this tournament from us last year, so we do have a defending champion for 2020 in Daniil Medvedev! However, Djokovic will be competing for the first time since the historic US Open Final this year, and with other notable contenders such as Alexander Zverev, Aslan Karatsev and Marin Cilic, the outcome is not clear. With that aside, here are my predictions for the winners and losers of the Rolex Paris Masters 2021!
Round of 64:
- Novak Djokovic gets a bye
Marton Fucsovics vs Fabio Fognini
Fabio Fognini to win in three sets. It’s safe to say that Marton Fucsovics has been underperforming ever since his run to the Wimbledon quarters. Fognini has the majority of players on tour beat when it comes to power, and combined with Fucsovics immaturity, should give Fognini the chance he needs to win.
Adrian Mannarino vs Nikoloz Basilashvili
Nikoloz Basilashvili to win in two sets. Mannarino has been in some form as of late, with brief sparks of brilliance culminating in a three-set comeback against Andrey Rublev. Meanwhile, Basilashvili has built a phenomenal 2021 season with his IW final. This one is completely on Niko’s racket.
Miomir Kecmanovic vs Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils to win in two sets. Le Monf is on a bit of a comeback at 35, with a winning record in the latter half of 2021. The opposite is true for Miomir.
Cam Norrie vs Federico Delbonis
Cam Norrie to win in two sets. Cam has done a fantastic job this year of beating lower-ranked players. As the most recent Masters champion, he should get off to a strong start here.
Filip Krajinovic vs Reilly Opelka
Reilly Opelka to win in three sets. Krajinovic has had an unremarkable season ever since pushing Medvedev to five down under earlier this year. Opelka hasn’t been serving terribly great since Toronto, but he should have the confidence over a lower ranked opponent.
Lorenzo Sonego vs Taylor Fritz
Taylor Fritz to win in three sets. Yes, Sonego has been unpredictable. Yes, Fritz will be bummed that he let the St. Petersburg title go. But his form has been undeniably impressive as of late, and the same cannot be said for Lorenzo. Teylor may have to shake off some nerves, but if his groundstrokes fire as well as his serve, Lorenzo has a very small chance.
- Andrey Rublev gets a bye
- Stefanos Tsitsipas gets a bye
Lloyd Harris vs Alex de Minaur
Alex de Minaur to win in three sets. This is a wild one to call. Lloyd Harris has been the better player this season, but I would argue that de Minaur has the higher peak. Also, this is Cam’s site, so… if the demon can find his groundstroke rhythm, I think he could eke out enough errors from the South African to garner him a tough three-set win.
Laslo Djere vs Lorenzo Musetti
Lorenzo Musetti to win in two sets. Unfortunately for the Serbian fans, only Nole’s spot in the second round looks favorable right now. Djere’s season looks like it will end with a streak of 5 losses.
James Duckworth vs Roberto Bautista Agut
Roberto Bautista Agut to win in two (tight) sets. These are some of the heftiest baseliners you will find on the ATP Tour. Bautista Agut has unfortunately run into red hot players multiple times during his last few tournaments, but his veteran baseline game will likely prove itself superior to Duckworth’s.
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Gianluca Mager
Felix Auger Aliassime to win in two sets. Mager won’t be able to apply the pressure necessary to draw the unforced errors from the 21-year-old, and if the quality starts flowing, Mager will be left behind.
Andy Murray vs Jenson Brooksby
Andy Murray to win in two sets. Man, Andy can’t catch a break! Brooksby was part of a break point party in his qualifying match against Carballes Baena, and I’d like to believe that Murray won’t be as forgiving. Apart from that, Brooksby fell to Schwartzman in Antwerp, so if Murray can display similar baseline grit, his chances are high.
Tommy Paul vs Jan-Lennard Struff
Jan-Lennard Struff to win in two sets. Paul has come through two grueling qualifying matches, and Struff is just starting to find his serve-volley form. I don’t think Paul has what it takes to overcome the German giant.
- Hubert Hurcakz gets a bye
- Casper Ruud gets a bye
Alexander Bublik vs Dan Evans
Dan Evans to win in three sets. It’s always a coin toss when it comes to Bublik. He’s got the great serve and the stunning two-hander; it’s just a question of his mental ability. Evans certainly has him beat in terms of discipline.
Frances Tiafoe vs Marcos Giron
Frances Tiafoe to win in two sets. Tiafoe is in a purple patch right now. Certainly Giron has had a solid 2021, but Tiafoe is serving well, volleying well, hitting from the ground well… you get it. Marcos Giron will have to pull a rabbit out of his hat to win.
John Millman vs Diego Schwartzman
Diego Schwartzman to win in three sets. The grittiest of gritty players, these two will be putting on baseline rallies well beyond the average. Schwartzman seems to be in his prime at the moment, as his speed and consistency are peaking. John Millman does have a chance if he can draw Diego to the net more often, but it’s a slim chance.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Richard Gasquet
Grigor Dimitrov to win in two (tight) sets. Dimitrov doesn’t need to be at his absolute best, but he does need to be good.
Karen Khachanov vs Mikael Ymer
Karen Khachanov to win in two sets. Khachanov is on the rise again, and his results will reflect that soon. The 2018 Champion will be looking to regain his former crown against a decent youngster that lacks results for the 2021 season.
Dusan Lajovic vs Mackenzie McDonald
Mackenzie McDonald to win in three sets. Mackie has reached a career high ranking of 54, and rightfully so after a relatively good 2021. Lajovic is not an easy cookie, however. Honestly, this match is a coin flip to predict, but I trust Mackie’s determination, and I believe his two hander outmatches Lajovic’s one hander.
- Alexander Zverev gets a bye
- Jannik Sinner gets a bye
Pierre-Hughes Herbert vs Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz to win in two sets. Carlos is already playing at a top-ten level in my opinion. The French wildcard would have to rely on a complete collapse from the Spaniard if he has a chance.
Hugo Gaston vs Arthur Rinderknech
Arthur Rinderknech to win in three sets. Gaston, the drop shot king, will likely meet his match in his lanky compatriot. If Rinderknech finds his rhythm on serve, it looks like Goliath will beat David in this encounter.
Benoit Paire vs Pablo Carreno Busta
Benoit Paire to win in two sets. Under normal conditions, Pablo Carreno Busta would be the obvious choice, being a bronze medalist and such. However, this is Paire’s home country. And he’ll be looking to prove a point; he’s still a good tennis player. If he resurrects his Cincinatti form, pulls off some good first serves and fires on his backhand, he could pull off the win against PCB. This is a long shot though.
Aslan Karatsev vs Sebastian Korda
Aslan Karatsev to win in three sets. This is a match where either opponent has the potential to beat the other. It comes down to who’s having the better season.
Marin Cilic vs Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
Marin Cilic to win in two sets. He’s the champion in St. Petersburg and the runner up in Russia. The Spaniard is not.
Ilya Ivashka vs Albert Ramos Vinolas
Ilya Ivashka to win in two sets. He has the upper hand over the Spanish veteran in terms of power and mobility. Don’t forget, he won his first title this year as well!
- Daniil Medvedev gets a bye.
Round of 32:
Novak Djokovic vs Fabio Fognini
Novak Djokovic to win in three sets. I think Fognini will take the first set off of Novak, and the trend will continue from the US Open. Then, in traditional GOAT Fashion, Novak will clobber Fabio in the next two.
Nikoloz Basilashvili vs Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils to win in three sets. The home favorite is likely to put on a show after a routine win over Kecmanovic. Basilashvili has the tools to beat the Frenchman - heck, he has the tools to beat anyone on his day - but I think Monfils’ rise will carry him through this obstacle to schedule a date with Novak.
Cam Norrie vs Reilly Opelka
Cam Norrie to win in two sets. It took a blistering Felix Auger-Aliassime to get the better of Cam Norrie, and Reilly’s level hasn’t been near that for the past month or so. If Cam Norrie summons his Indian Wells form, he’ll be in business here in Paris.
Taylor Fritz vs Andrey Rublev
Taylor Fritz to win in two sets. At the moment, it feels like each player is deserving of the other’s ranking. Fritz is in his own purple patch, and Rublev is in a yellow patch (if yellow is the opposite of purple). Rublev needs to get his act together if he is to win, because Fritz is doing great at finding his spots, and his mobility is great, too.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Alex de Minaur
Stefanos Tsitsipas to win in two sets. It might be a case of déjà vu for the Australian. He’ll need to show just a little more tenacity than he did against Tsitsipas in IW if he is to pull out a victory. Tsitsipas’ serving will definitely put pressure back on the demon, and I think it’ll carry the Greek to the third round.
Lorenzo Musetti vs Roberto Bautista Agut
Roberto Bautista Agut to win in two sets. Lorenzo Musetti is almost unrecognizable right now when put in perspective with his form in the beginning of 2021. Against a very consistent player in Bautista Agut, the Italian will definitely have a tough time.
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Andy Murray
Felix Auger Aliassime to win in three sets. Andy Murray will rue this rematch of the US Open 2020. Felix has had the best year of his career, and while Murray has finally beaten a top-20 opponent in Hubert Hurkacz, Felix has the power and athleticism to outlast the veteran, especially after he plays Brooksby in the first round.
Jan-Lennard Struff vs Hubert Hurcakz
Hubert Hurcakz to win in three sets. Doubles partners turned opponents, this encounter is a tough one to call. But I think Hurkacz will be motivated to play for a spot in the Nitto ATP Finals, and while Struff has shown a little spike in performance lately, the range of Hurkacz will limit the effectiveness of Struff’s serve and volley game.
Casper Ruud vs Dan Evans
Casper Ruud to win in two sets. Casper Ruud is the better player. That’s the crux of it. It’s going to be a lot of inside out forehands to the Brit’s slice, and I don’t think Evans will be able to withstand it.
Frances Tiafoe vs Diego Schwartzman
Frances Tiafoe to win in three sets. Tiafoe had Schwartzman on the ropes in Vienna, and I predict something similar will happen in Paris. Tiafoe’s returns have been exceptional the past week, and his serving has been too. His craftiness on the court will have him enlisting the crowd’s help as well.
Grigor Dimitrov vs Karen Khachanov
Karen Khachanov to win in three sets. At this moment, Khachanov has the slight edge in consistency over Dimitrov. Dimitrov might be able to raise his level for one set, but the Russian is much more comfortable dictating from the baseline than the Bulgarian, and his shots are simply more reliable.
Alexander Zverev vs Mackenzie McDonald
Alexander Zverev to win in two sets. McDonald doesn’t have the weapons to beat a top-5 player who looks for all the world to be unbeatable. Zverev should have a comfortable match.
Jannik Sinner vs Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz to win in two sets. This is probably the most anticipated match of the second round. Both are young. Both have insane power and mobility. But I feel that Alcaraz has shown against Tsitsipas and Berrettini that he has what it takes to outlast the big guns. He has slightly more power on the stretch than Sinner, and more variety with the dropshot as well. It’s a match that will come down to serving, however, and both have strong serves, but Alcaraz might just have the better nerves.
Arthur Rinderknech vs Benoit Paire
Arthur Rinderknech to win in three sets. Benoit Paire will go out with a sputter. Yes, he just beat PCB. But he has shown that he doesn't have the consistency to pursue the top titles. And Rinderknech’s serve will rattle Paire’s nerves enough to topple him over.
Marin Cilic vs Aslan Karatsev
Marin Cilic to win in two sets. The other blockbuster of the second round, it might see an unexpected winner. Karatsev did just beat Cilic in Russia, but Cilic has since won a title. His power and movement is reminiscent of his 2014 US Open run, and Karatsev just lost to John Millman. Still, this one is tough to call; both are great players.
Ilya Ivashka vs Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev to win in two sets. It’s Medvedev. The defending champion. On hard court. Come on.
Round of 16:
Novak Djokovic vs Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils to win in three sets. This is my big prediction for this tournament. Monfils is the home favorite. He has never beaten Djokovic, but I have this feeling that beating him in Paris will be like a swan song for Monfils. This is one of Djokovic’s top three seasons, but I think it’ll be hard for him to build any reasonable confidence with a routine win over Fognini. Of course, this is way easier said than done. But it’ll definitely be an exciting match to watch.
Cam Norrie vs Taylor Fritz
Taylor Fritz to win in three sets. I think that if Cam Norrie lacks anything, it’s ruthless power. And that’s something Fritz has been able to dish out generously over the past week or so. When Fritz gets rolling, it’s incredibly hard to stop him. I think targeting the Norrie backhand will be the strategy, and I think it’ll be a fruitful one.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Roberto Bautista Agut
Stefanos Tsitsipas to win in two sets. Bautista Agut has never won against Stefanos Tsitsipas, and I don’t think it will happen soon. Bautista Agut’s shots are too flat to create the angles necessary to put pressure on Stefanos’s backhand slice. And every other aspect of the world number 3’s game is almost immaculate.
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Hubert Hurkacz
Felix Auger-Aliassime to win in two sets. Hubert has never beaten his good friend Felix in a singles match on the ATP Tour. And 2021 is the Canadian’s best year. So I think you can do the math.
Casper Ruud vs Frances Tiafoe
Casper Ruud to win in three sets. I think Ruud is criminally underrated on the hard courts. He is a top 10 player comfortable, and has the forehand and movement to deal with Tiafoe’s serve and craftiness. It’s a question of how consistent Tiafoe can be, and keeping up a high level has been his Achilles heel.
Alexander Zverev vs Karen Khachanov
Alexander Zverev to win in two sets. Zverev is basically a more powerful, consistent and literally just taller version of Karen Khachanov. They both play similar shots in similar moments, and they love their backhand down the line. But Zverev is superior in all aspects. He should have yet another comfortable match.
Carlos Alcaraz vs Arthur Rinderkench
Carlos Alcaraz to win in three sets. The Frenchmans’ nationality might motivate him to get a set, but Alcaraz is too well rounded to lose here.
Marin Cilic vs Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev to win in three sets. Marin Cilic will definitely give him a run for his money, but Medvedev’s serving will carry him to victory. Even if Cilic gets close, his nerves might get the better of his forehand’s ability in the tough moments. And Medvedev might be the best baseliner on the tour right now.
Gael Monfils vs Taylor Fritz
Taylor Fritz to win in two sets. Monfils will be stripped of stamina after beating Novak Djokovic. Running after Fritz forehands and serves will leave him too exhausted to give the American a beatdown. It will be a valiant effort, but in vain.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Felix Auger Aliassime
Stefanos Tsitsipas to win in three sets. Tsitsipas once mused that he may never beat Felix. Since then, he has won 5 out of 5 encounters. Expect him to make it a perfect 6.
Casper Ruud vs Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev to win in two sets. It’s going to be another case of “too big, too powerful”. Ruud will make Zverev move a lot for sure, but Zverev won’t concede a set as long as his serve stays as reliable as it has been.
Carlos Alcaraz vs Daniil Medvedev
Carlos Alcaraz to win in three sets. It will be a second meeting between the two, but boy has Alcaraz matured since then. I think that after beating Tsitsipas and Berrettini (and hopefully Jannik Sinner) he will have the guts to take out the world number two. He will have had a relatively easy draw up until this point, but in this match, he’ll have to find his power and serve extremely well. I think he has the makings of a future world number one, and I also think Daniil will agree after this match.
Taylor Fritz vs Stefanos Tsitsipas:
Stefanos Tsitsipas to win in two sets. Tsitsipas’ forehand and net play will put all the pressure on Fritz’ serve. Power won’t be enough to beat the Greek, and with Tsitsipas ruling the net, Fritz will get frustrated quickly. It should make for a straightforward win in the Tsitsipas books.
Carlos Alcaraz vs Alexander Zverev:
Alexander Zverev to win in three sets. It will be a memorable week for the teenager, but it won’t end with a final. In a rematch of their Vienna match, Alcaraz may do just a little better, but Zverev will still take the spoils.
The winner: Alexander Zverev in two sets
Zverev will go on to finish a fantastic season, making the semis of two grand slams and winning three Masters 1000 titles. Tsitsipas will try and fail to push through the powerful Zverev wall. What this means for the ATP Finals is still unclear, but Zverev will go one step further than last year and claim the Paris title.
Well? What did you think of my predictions? If you have any disagreements, paste your comments down below and we can talk about it. Until next time!