I think most were quite shocked to see the outcome of Novak Djokovic's first match at the Paris Masters tournament today. He looked like he was playing amazing tennis in the first set, embarrassing Sam Querry with a bagel set. I thought he was going to roll through an easy second set and I almost wasn't paying attention anymore when Sam got broken in the first game. Novak looked to be taking the #1 mantle before it was fully given back to him by his dominant form. However, Querry had other plans. Relieved to win his first game at 2-1, this seemed to give him confidence and he was able to break back, ultimately taking it in a tiebreak. I have often thought of Sam as being somewhat weak mentally though, so even when he broke in the 3rd set I still didn't think he would close it out. However, his serve seemed to really help him, and frankly so did Djokovic, who was making a lot more than normal errors.
I know that Nole has been dealing with personal issues in his life, one of which is his father's hospitalization with a respiratory condition. How much had to do with that, how much had to do with the fact that he already knows he got #1 back and would really like some rest before going into the World Tour Finals, and how much was simply just that he lost?
I don't know the answers to those questions. I do know, though, that with Roger Federer not playing this week, with Djokovic out in his first round match, and with some of the others probably wanting to conserve some energy for next week, it just doesn't seem like a normal Masters 1000 tournament. It reminds me of Montreal this year when several of the top guys didn't play. It just didn't seem to have the same level of importance.
It will be really interesting to see if Andy Murray gives his all to the tournament since he hasn't won one of these all year, or if he is trying to save a bit of strength too. Maybe one of the other guys who usually doesn't have an opportunity to win such a prestigious event will be able to step it up. I remember when Robin Soderling won it a few years ago (believe it or not I actually miss him!).
I really wish they had found another way to give a longer off season than to put three weeks of tournaments back to back, including the all important World Tour Finals at the end of a long season. Maybe then Federer would have chosen to play Paris, not losing 1,000 ranking points for not being able to play this week. I'm sure I will still watch the Paris tournament this week to see what happens, but it's really next week that will be capturing my attention.