The Watch List spotlights the must-know storylines for the upcoming week in tennis. This week, the ATP finishes its regular season at the final Masters 1000 tournament of the year.
BNP Paribas Masters (Paris-Bercy)
1. Federer increases the pressure on Novak Djokovic: With his fifth title of the season at the Swiss Indoors last week, Federer is now fewer than 500 points behind No. 1 Djokovic in the ATP Race to London rankings, a ranking system that only takes into account his 2014 results. That puts him in good position to finish the season at No. 1 if he can sustain his momentum through the end of the end of the season. Federer has lost just two matches since Wimbledon, winning titles in Cincinnati, Shanghai, and Basel. He takes his 12-match winning streak into the final regular season tournament at the Paris Indoors, a tournament he won in 2011.
Seeded No. 2, his draw is much lighter than top-seeded Djokovic. The other top 10 seeds in his half include Stan Wawrinka, Tomas Berdych, and Milos Raonic. Djokovic on the other hand has drawn David Ferrer, Kei Nishikori, Andy Murray, and Grigor Dimitrov, and he could face unseeded (and well-rested) Gael Monfils in the third round.
2. No paternity leave for Djokovic: The top seed is playing his first tournament since becoming a father last week. Djokovic and his wife Jelena welcomed their son Stefan into the world.tr People are pretty excited about back home. Now to see if he can fend off Federer's charge for the top ranking.
3. The final push for London: Outside of the top eight when the Asian swing began, Murray's five weeks of non-stop play, which netted him three titles including last week in Valencia, have boosted him up to No. 5 in the Race to London with one tournament left. Given Nadal's decision to shut down his season, Murray looks in perfect position to qualify and it opens up an extra spot for the ATP World Tour Finals. That's good news for both Raonic and Dimitrov, who sit at No. 10 and 11 in the Race respectively. With 1,000 points up for grab this week, anyone of Murray, Nishikori, Berdych, Raonic, and Dimitrov could qualify for the remaining three spots.
4. The Frenchmen return: Strategic or genuine injuries? Those are the questions surrounding Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Monfils' decisions to pull out of nearly every tournament since the end of September. With the France in the Fed Cup final in November, France's top two players haven't played much since the U.S. Open and now they return in Paris. Tsonga plays either Jurgen Melzer or Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in his first match. Monfils opens against Joao Sousa and could play John Isner in the second round with the winner to play Federer. That's a rough draw for Isner.
Tournament of Champions
The WTA season finishes off in Sofia, Bulgaria with the Tournament of Champions, a final Round Robin event featuring eight players who have won International-level titles this season. The field includes Ekaterina Makarova, Dominika Cibulkova, Flavia Pennetta, Andrea Petkovic, Carla Suarez Navarro, Alize Cornet, Garbine Muguruza, Tsvetana Pironkova.