ATP Paris Masters 2011 Preview: Rafael Nadal's Chance to Gain Ground

Shane LambertAnalyst IINovember 1, 2011

Nadal had a disappointing Shanghai Masters.
Nadal had a disappointing Shanghai Masters.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The ATP Tour stopped in both Basel and Valencia this week and several top players remain in action in those draws including Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, David Ferrer and others.

Next week (November 7th to 13th) the ATP will stop in Paris as the final Masters Series 1000 event of the 2011 season takes place ahead of the year-end ATP World Tour Championships from London.

The entrant list to the Paris event (BNP Paribas Masters) includes the entire Top 10 (October 31st, 2011 rankings) with the exception of Robin Soderling, the tournament's defending champion.

Soderling has not played on tour since July when he won the ATP Bastad event (clay) through Tomas Berdych and David Ferrer. The Swede missed the 2011 US Open with a wrist injury and a virus, and his 2011 season looks completed.

Soderling's current stay in the Top 10 on tour looks as though it will end soon, as the exceptional clay courter stands to lose 1200 ranking points before season's end (1000 from Paris, 200 from London).

But where one player is losing ground on the ATP Tour, another stands to improve his situation. One player with a chance to increase his ranking points total in Paris is Rafael Nadal.

Nadal, the No. 2 ranked player in the world, has 10,375 ranking points to his credit right now, about 3500 less than top-ranked Djokovic.

But Nadal did not play in the 2010 Paris Masters and as a result he has all to gain in this year's tournament.

Nadal cannot catch Djokovic for the top spot until at least the 2012 Australian Open. However, the Spaniard can take a bite out of the Serb's lead. 

Additionally, with a strong result Nadal can separate himself from an improving Andy Murray and the rest of the ATP field.