By Matt Hill
The ATP Fall Season began in earnest earlier this week with ATP 250 Tournaments in Metz, France and St. Petersburg Russia, and will conclude at the ATP World Tour Finals in London in November. This is probably the least popular among the seasons after going through the European Clay Court season, the grass court season and Olympics and then the U.S. Open Series and U.S. Open. There are still some interesting story lines going into this time in the tennis calendar that the mainstream U.S. media basically ignores.
One thing to note is Roger Federer has more points to defend this fall than any top player and if Novak Djokovic does well in the fall he could retake the No. 1 ranking from Federer. The top players will most likely reappear in the 500 split week in Tokyo or Beijing at the first of October.
There are two Masters 1000 events in the fall, the Shanghai Masters and the Paris Indoor. Last year these events were very poorly participated in, especially the tournament in Shanghai. Most of the players are ready for a break by the time this season comes for, and it’s tough to ask them to play after the grueling year they’ve had. However, it’s a good thing for these tournaments in Asia because it’s the only time the tour comes to the continent all year.
Another lingering question is “Will we see Rafa this fall?” I totally doubt it. The Australian Open seems to be probably the likely return date, if he is even ready by then. Rafa is kind of a mystery and you’ll probably see me write more about the issue at a later date.
Andy Murray had the dream summer, but can he carry it over in the fall? Most likely the elite players will play no more than three tournaments as an ATP 500 is required after the U.S. Open. Some will be lucky to play that. An interesting change in the schedule is the ATP World Tour Finals this year is two weeks earlier than in recent years. This will leave the players with a seven-week off season before the Australian Open lead-in tournaments in Jan. 2013.
Here is a look at the fall schedule (All events ATP 250’s unless otherwise noted):
9-17: Metz, France; St. Petersburg, Russia.
9-24: Bangkok Thailand; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
10-1: China Open, Beijing China (500);Japan Open, Tokyo, Japan (500)
10-7: Shanghai Masters, Shanghai, China (1000)
10-15: Vienna, Austria; Stockholm, Sweden; Moscow, Russia
10-21: Valencia, Spain (500); Basel, Switzerland (500)
10-29: BNP Paribas Masters, Paris, France (1000)
11-5: Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals
Matt Hill is the Tennis Columnist for the Elizabethton (TN) Star. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @MattHillsports.