With the BNP Paribas Masters getting underway today in Paris, the race for the year-end championships is at its most exciting point. Six players are still eligible for the last three spots in London. I will introduce them, along with what the outsiders looking in need to do to have a chance at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Tomas Berdych currently sits in sixth place with 3,665 points. Because of an early exit last year in Paris, Berdych will only be defending 45 points, so the absolute worst he can finish with is 3,625. That total is 475 higher than ninth-place Fernando Verdasco's 3,150 points. Berdych looks as if he's in good shape to qualify even though he's lost his last three matches.
David Ferrer is peaking at the right point. After his tournament win in Valencia last week, he jumped Andy Roddick in the rankings and sits only 20 points behind Berdych. He did not play in Paris last year so Ferrer will be playing only to gain points. Ferrer faces potential matches with Jurgen Melzer in the Round of 16 and Roger Federer in the quarterfinals.
Andy Roddick is also playing all for gain this week. He is in the final slot for London with 3,485 points and looks to continue surging after a quarterfinal run in Basel last week. Roddick could face Mikhail Youzhny in the Round of 16 and Robin Soderling in the quarterfinals.
Fernando Verdasco is the first person out as it stands with 3,150 points. He faces a significant 335-point deficit, but still has a legitimate shot to oust one of the other three. Unfortunately for Verdasco, he has only won one match since the US Open and he is defending 90 points from Paris last season. He needs to make a run to the finals to have a chance at qualifying. Andy Murray is a potential quarterfinal opponent for Verdasco.
Mikhail Youzhny had a rough time in China earlier this month. After making a semifinal run at the US Open and winning in Malaysia, Youzhny dropped two straight matches in Beijing and Shanghai to send his chances for London in the other direction. With no points to defend, Youzhny needs to rekindle his semifinal spirit from the US Open and make another run to the semifinals. If Roddick wins his first match, Youzhny will need to win the tournament to qualify.
Jurgen Melzer knows what he has to do to even have a chance. Melzer needs to win the BNP Paribas Masters to add to his 2,605 point total. With a victory, he can only finish eighth at best and if Roddick makes the quarterfinals, Melzer is eliminated no matter what he does. The Austrian can only go out and try to play his best tennis and try to finish strong after having a career year.