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Among Outsiders, Tipping London to Tipsarevic

In the race to the Barclays ATP World Championships in London, Janko Tipsarevic has the best chance to qualify among the outsiders.

By Chris Oddo

2012 ATP World Championships - Points Race (October 9, 2012) -- As the ATP World Tour Finals approach -- there are less than four weeks to go -- race to London scenarios always hold the promise of eleventh-hour drama, miraculous comebacks and plenty of scoreboard watching. But on closer inspection, current race standings paint a pretty bleak picture for all but one player on the outside looking in: Janko Tipsarevic.

One Masters 1000 event is underway in Shanghai, while another is set to take place in Paris the week before the Finals, but even those golden opportunities for point grabbing might not be enough to keep players like Juan Monaco, John Isner, and Milos Raonic within striking distance over the next few weeks. 
 
Given that a Masters 1000 semifinal appearance equals only 360 points (a quarterfinal equals 180), players on the outside looking in are going to have to come up with some  magical tennis to keep themselves in the race all the way into the final week in Paris. 
 
It will be challenging enough for players like Isner, Raonic, or Richard Gasquet to earn enough points to make up their current deficits, but when you consider the fact that the player in the coveted eighth spot (Jo-Wilfried Tsonga) will also be earning points of his own, the true uphill nature of the challenge becomes apparent. 
 
In between Shanghai and Paris there are three 250's next week (Vienna, Stockholm, Moscow) and two 500's the following week (Valencia, Basel) that could also provide some opportunities for the field, but anything short of a final appearance in each would most certainly be a disappointment with regard to race implications. 
 
Still, there is some hope. With David Ferrer and Juan Martin del Potro sitting out the Shanghai event, things could tighten considerably by week's end. Not only will Ferrer and Del Potro miss out on valuable points, as neither has officially qualified yet, but their absence also leaves the draw wide open for players like Janko Tipsarevic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to move up. 
 
Update: Nicolas Almagro, who was in good position to make a run for one of the final eight spots as the week began, saw his chances to qualify take a huge blow when he fell to Tommy Haas in the first round at Beijing. Similarly, Juan Monaco lost to Fernando Verdasco in the second round. 
 
Dark horses:  Raonic and Isner are more than 800 points behind Tsonga and nearly 1500 points behind Juan Martin del Potro. A title run by either would change the landscape of the race drastically, but neither player has ever won a Masters title, so why should we expect one now? 
 
Final answer? Tipsarevic is your best bet: If you're looking for the longshot with the best chance to qualify, it's definitely Janko Tipsarevic. The Serb is currently 395 points behind Tsonga, and he's proven that he can earn points at the Masters level by reaching two semifinals and a quarterfinal in 2012. But Tipsarevic will likely have to get past Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals at Shanghai this week if he plans to make a significant dent in Tsonga's lead. He'll also have to do some scoreboard watching, hoping that either Benoit Paire or Milos Raonic can upset the Frenchman in one of the next two rounds. (Update: Tsonga needed a tiebreak but beat Paire in straight sets)
 
Don’t be fooled. Being mathematically alive in the race to London is not the same as having a good chance: At first glance, it seems like there are infinite possibilities in the Race to London, but by our calculations, barring some unprecedented performances by a Raonic, Monaco, Almagro, or Isner, Tipsarevic is the only player with realistic hopes of making the final eight by Nov. 5th. 
 
(Photo Credit: ATP Tour website)


 

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