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By Chris Oddo

Jerzy Janowicz reaches the final of the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris (November 5, 2012) -- Heroes and Zeros is Tennis Now's weekly look at the brightest stars of the game -- and the biggest flops. This week we'll look back at the Paris Masters and the Fed Cup final, as well as some of the results on the challenger circuit.

Hero: David Ferrer

It took David Ferrer too long to achieve this. But life has been giving Ferrer lemons for the last ten years, and he has been patiently waiting for his lemonade to turn to wine while Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and now Andy Murray have been gobbling up Grand Slams and Masters titles like they were Halloween candy packed next to a liverwurst sandwich in an 8-year-old's brown bag lunch.

Last week in Paris, Ferrer finally had his perfect storm of opportunity, and he left no doubt as to who is the best player in world when the big four aren't in the picture. Given a small window of opportunity, Ferrer--as he always does--wasted no time in seizing this opportunity by the jugular, winning his first Masters 1000 title, and becoming the first player outside the big four to do so in two years.

He scored wins over Stan Wawrinka, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and two red-hot dark horses in Michael Llodra and Jerzy Janowicz on a relatively fast indoor hard court, which gives further validation to the theory that Ferrer is a more complete, more dynamic player at 30 then he ever has been in his career.

Now, if the indefatigable Spaniard can do something about his combined 4-29 record against Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, he could have his next breakthrough on the Grand Slam stage.

Zero: Nicolas Almagro

It's been a great season for Nicolas Almagro, but he finished on a low note, losing his sixth consecutive match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and dropping to 1-21 on hard courts against top ten players. For a player of Almagro's caliber, that's just not good enough.

Hero: Jerzy Janowicz

Check the rankings and find that Jerzy Janowicz will finish the season ranked at No. 26 in the world. Need we say more? We are going to, anyway... The 21-year-old burst onto the scene in Paris last week, winning five straight matches against top 20 players and captivating fans with a scintillating brand of tennis that garnered comparisons to one of the game's all-time fan-favorites, Marat Safin.

Not only is the first Pole to reach the ATP's top 30 since 1984 powerful, he also possesses a delicate touch, surprisingly fast feet and remarkable poise under pressure. And best of all, he's a delight to watch and he's unafraid to tilt the risk-reward scenario just enough to place him teetering on the edge of recklessness and, dare I say, brilliance.

Jerzy Janowicz will be talked about as the next big thing from now until the Australian Open begins. The talk may be premature, but there is no denying that what Janowicz accomplished in Paris this week--becoming the first player to reach the finals of a Masters 1000 event in his debut since 2000 and the first Pole to ever reach that far--is a remarkable feat all on its own.

Zero: Lukas Rosol

The giant-killer lost in the first round of the Geneva challenger to Marius Copil of Romania. Does Rosol need to be on Wimbledon's Centre Court to play inspired tennis?

Hero: Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna

The Indian duo won their first Masters title as a team and qualified for their first trip to this week's World Tour Finals in the same week. So much for the two-year ban from Davis Cup affecting their tennis.

Zero: Donald Young

Young lost in the first round of the Charlottesville Challenger after bageling Switzerland's Michael Lammer in the first set. That is just so Donald Young.

Hero: Denis Kudla

Nice job by the promising American at the aforementioned Charlottesville Challenger, as he took the title, losing only one set in five matches. The title pushes the 20-year-old’s ranking to a career-high 147.

Zero: ATP Paris

How does Victory Hanescu, the lucky loser who subbed in for Roger Federer when he was a late no-show in Paris, get a first-round bye? Can't things be switched around so that a more deserving player gets the bye?

Hero: Lucie Safarova and her Czech Republic teammates

Kudos to the Czech Republic, which won its second consecutive Fed Cup title over the weekend by taking out Serbia in the final. And even more kudos to the weekend's hero, Lucie Safarova, who went 2-0 against Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic without losing a single set.

BTW, Safarova's efforts impressed Martina Navratilova enough for her to tweet the following on Sunday: "Wow. Lucie needs to bottle this feeling and play like this at regular tournaments! A hero is born :)"

Zero: Jelena Jankovic

After Ana Ivanovic rallied the Serbs with a huge win over Petra Kvitova on Sunday, Jankovic could only manage two games against Safarova.

Hero: Sam Querrey

Huge upsets over Novak Djokovic and Milos Raonic leave Querrey at No. 22 in the rankings, and with a lot of hope that he could go higher in 2012.

Hero: Sergiy Stakhovsky

Stakhovsky qualified for a challenger in Geneva and lost in the first round. His earnings? $660 Euros. More fodder for the ongoing debate on player compensation for ATP Player Council member.


(Photo Credit: AP)

 

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