With the last Masters 1000 of the season starting in Paris this Monday, there’s not much intrigue regarding who will finish the year at #1, with Rafael Nadal only needing to win one match until the end of the year to secure that honor. The main intrigue of the tournament, aside from the obvious “Who will win it?”, is who will secure the last two qualifying spots and join Nadal, Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Marin Cilic, and Grigor Dimitrov at the O2 Arena in London. We’ll analyze each contender’s chances one by one:
#7. David Goffin – 2885 points
The Belgian is in the best position out of all the contenders. In fact, he’s in such a strong position that even if he loses his first match (against Adrian Mannarino or David Ferrer) it would still take a SF appearance at the minimum for Pablo Carreno Busta, Sam Querrey, or Kevin Anderson to pass him, a final for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Juan Martin del Potro to do it, and a title for Lucas Pouille. Considering that two players must surpass Goffin in order for him to miss out, the Belgian is in an incredibly favorable position.
Odds of qualification: Almost certain
#8. Pablo Carreno Busta – 2605 points
Out of the Spaniard’s 2605 ranking points, only 10 have come after the US Open (and those 10 were earned by losing in R1 in Shanghai). His form has been absolutely abysmal since losing the semifinal in New York to Anderson but he somehow managed to hold on to the 8th spot. Should he beat Vasek Pospisil or Nicolas Mahut in his first match, which is far from a given, he might have a winner-take-all match against Querrey in R16. Should both win their first matches, whoever wins the Querrey vs Carreno Busta matchup will be ahead in the race and the loser will be automatically eliminated from contention. There’s no combination of results that could have both Querrey and Carreno Busta in London, so in order to make London Carreno Busta has to at least match Querrey’s result.
Even if he does fend off Querrey’s challenge, he can still be passed by the other challengers. Assuming both he and Querrey lose their first match, a semifinal would be enough for any of Anderson (only needs a QF), del Potro, or Tsonga to pass Carreno Busta, while Pouille would need a final. If Carreno Busta loses R16 to whoever beats Querrey, it’s the same scenario, except Anderson needs a semifinal. If Carreno Busta loses in the QF, Anderson would need a SF, while del Potro and Tsonga would need a final and Pouille the title. If Carreno Busta loses in the SF, Anderson and del Potro would need to reach the final, while for Tsonga and Pouille only a title would suffice. If Carreno Busta reaches the final, the only combination of results that wouldd eliminate him would be to lose to one of Anderson or Tsonga in the title match while Goffin makes the semis.
Odds of qualification: About even
#9. Sam Querrey – 2525 points
His prospects are mostly the same as Carreno Busta’s, and with the tournament being played on hard court he will be favored in such a matchup. The main difference is that if Querrey loses before the QF (so even if he wins his first match and then loses to whoever beats Carreno Busta), he’s automatically out. If he loses in the QF, Anderson and del Potro need a semifinal to pass him while Tsonga and Pouille need a final. If Querrey loses in the SF, Anderson, del Potro, and Tsonga need a final while Pouille needs the title. If he loses in the final, he’d have to lose to one of Tsonga, Anderson, or Pouille in the title match while Goffin makes the semis to be eliminated.
Odds of qualification: Even
#10. Kevin Anderson – 2470 points
Federer’s withdrawal certainly made Anderson’s section of the draw easier, but he still needs at the very least a quarterfinal to have any chance; losing before that means automatic elimination from the race. Reaching the QF would entail beating Verdasco/Rublev and Thiem, not an impossible task. But, to a lesser extent than Carreno Busta, Anderson has also really struggled post-US Open. But a quarterfinal would only be enough if neither Querrey nor Carreno Busta made it through their section, with Carreno Busta having to lose in his first match even. Plus, he’d still need del Potro and Tsonga not making the semis and Pouile not making the final. In order to make to London, Anderson will almost certainly have to do something he’s never done in his career, and reach his first ever Masters 1000 semifinal. With such a result, all he’d need is for Querrey/Busta not making it past the QF and Tsonga/del Potro not making the final. If Anderson loses in the final, the only scenario where he’d be eliminated would be losing the final to del Potro while Goffin makes the semis.
Odds of qualification: Not awful
#11. Juan Martin del Potro – 2415 points
Had he beaten Federer in the Basel final, del Potro would be in a very decent position, but as it stands his chances are slim. First and foremost, he’s been to the final weekend of tournaments three weeks in a row and is unlikely to have much left in his tank. Even if he does, he needs a semifinal at minimum to have a chance, and that might entail beating the likes of Dimitrov and Zverev on the way. A semifinal would still not be enough if Busta makes the QF; if Busta doesn’t make the QF, then the only thing that could stop del Potro from qualifying with a SF in Bercy would be facing and losing to Querrey in said semifinal, Tsonga making the final, or Pouille winning the title. If del Potro makes it to the final, then he’d only be out if he lost to Tsonga or Pouille while Goffin makes at least the quarters.
Odds of qualification: Very poor
#12. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – 2310 points
Like del Potro, Tsonga needs a semifinal at minimum. All it takes is for Carreno Busta to win his first match for a final to be required though. Assuming Carreno Busta loses the opener, a SF for Tsonga would still see him eliminated if Querrey ends up making the QF in that section, del Potro or Anderson making the semis, or Pouille making the final. Tsonga most likely needs at least a final to have a realistic shot, and even then he could still be out if he loses the final to Carreno Busta, Querrey, or del Potro, and Goffin wins one match. To make matters worse, Tsonga looked pretty much spent in the Vienna final and might not even be in good enough condition to make it past his first match.
Odds of qualification: Almost impossible
#13. Lucas Pouille – 2145 points
The good news for Pouille is he’s inherited Federer’s #2 seed draw, but that’s where the good news ends. Pouille is in a unique position where even the title might not be enough to make it to London. He’d still be out if the beaten finalist was Carreno Busta and Goffin made the semis–granted, a very unlikely scenario. The bare minimum for Pouille to have a chance is a final appearance; nothing less will cut it. If he does lose in the final, Pouille needs to hope that Carreno Busta doesn’t make the QF and that Querrey or del Potro doesn’t make the SF. He’s in Tsonga and Anderson’s half of the draw, so by making the final he’d be guaranteed to finish ahead of them.
Odds of qualification: Slim to none
Bar results completely out of left field, Goffin should have one of the spots, with the remaining one coming down to Carreno Busta and Querrey. This is, however, a Masters 1000 tournament without the likes of Wawrinka, Nishikori, Federer, Djokovic, Murray, and Berdych… so the potential for results out of left field is very much there.