Long-awaited Novak Djokovic return headlines wide-open Paris Masters

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has not played since the US Open final in September, but he is finally back in action this week.

The ATP Tour has one last Masters level tournament in store for us this season, and it is the always-brilliant Paris.

Paris-Bercy is usually a tournament that is highly valued by the top players as it is prepares them for the ATP Finals which always follows, and this year is no different with a top field assembling.

That includes world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, but it's unlikely the Serbian will have it all his own way in Paris.

When, court type, and how to watch?

When: November 1-7

Court: Indoor hardcourt

How to watch: Amazon Prime

Return of Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic celebrates

Djokovic last played in the final of the US Open nearly two months ago. In that match he lost in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev, who won his maiden major title.

The defeat cost Djokovic a historic calendar Grand Slam. Had he won it, he would have become the first man in more than 50 years to win all four majors in the same season.

Missing out, or perhaps the sheer pressure of the pursuit itself, reduced Djokovic to tears in New York, and understandably he has withdrawn from the ATP since to reflect and recover.

No one should be surprised to see him choose Paris as his return to the Tour, though. It's a tournament he has won more than any other player in history. In fact, of the 45 matches he has played there, he has won 37 of them.

The big question will be just how ready Djokovic is after such an extended break from competition. He will start the tournament as favourite, and physically he will be in top condition as always, but mentally he may just be caught a little cold in this one.

He is still more than capable of turning up after two months away from tennis and winning it, though. He is Novak Djokovic after all.

The top contenders

Daniil Medvedev with US Open trophy

The court speed at the Paris Masters is generally pretty quick, and so that immediately makes two players real contenders.

Daniil Medvedev is very much a hardcourt specialist, and he can generally hit through an opponent from the back of the court even on the slowest of hardcourts.

The Russian goes into the tournament as defending champion too. In 2020 Djokovic opted not to play the event, but it was still a very strong field, headlined by top seed Rafael Nadal.

Medvedev won it, though, and he went on to win the ATP Finals as well which had similar court conditions, so he is probably going to be the man to beat.

Alexander Zverev was the player Medvedev beat in the final in Paris last year, and it was the German who defeated Nadal in the semi-finals.

He is coming into the tournament in form having won the Vienna Open last week, and he is another player the quick courts will suit down to the ground.

Those courts probably would have suited Matteo Berrettini too, but the Wimbledon finalist has withdrawn with 'stiffness', which is another way of saying he wants to rest before the ATP Finals.

Stefanos Tsitsipas is a threat to anyone, and you can never discount Andrey Rublev either, although he is not in especially great form right now.

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Dominic Thiem are all missing due to injury.

The top outsider

Jannik Sinner in Antwerp

If you are relatively new to tennis, then the name Jannik Sinner may be unfamiliar to you. That is unlikely to be the case for long.

The 20-year-old Italian broke into the world top ten last week for the first time, and expect him to be there for the next decade at least, injury permitting.

Sinner has been in quite exceptional form of late, especially on indoor hardcourts. He lost in the semi-finals of Vienna last week, but won his last two indoor hardcourt tournaments before that (Antwerp and Sofia).

Sinner is a huge hitting player from the back of the court who combines that power with supreme balance and footspeed. It's only a matter of time before he adds the net-game and a little extra fizz on his serve to become the complete player, but for the moment he is easily capable of winning in Paris.

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