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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Federer can take advantage of favourable draw

Swiss ace set for another battle with great rival Nadal

Roger Federer shows no sign of age catching up with him
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Sky Sports Arena, 10am Monday

Roger Federer has won ten consecutive matches and two titles - the Shanghai Masters and the Swiss Indoors - since his quarter-final exit at the US Open and is the man to beat at the Paris Masters, where top seed Rafael Nadal looks his main rival.

Novak Djokovic has dominated the tournament in recent years – winning it four times between 2009 and 2015 – but the Serb is a notable absentee, as is defending champion Andy Murray, who has not been on court since July.

Federer and Nadal are in a head-to-head battle to finish the year as world number one and were finalists earlier this month in Shanghai, where the Swiss triumphed 6-3 6-4 to stretch his winning sequence over the Spaniard to five matches.

Nadal has been resting since his return from China but Federer has stayed on the winning trail and collected the Swiss Indoors title in Basel on Sunday with a dogged 6-7 6-4 6-3 triumph over Juan Martin Del Potro.

At the age of 36 Federer has to be careful with his workload but he also had some easy matches last week – beating Frances Tiafoe 6-1 6-3, Benoit Paire 6-1 6-3 and David Goffin 6-1 6-2.

And he seems to have landed in the easier side of the Paris draw.

Third seed Marin Cilic is a possible semi-final opponent but Federer has beaten the Croat in seven of their previous eight meetings, including this year's Wimbledon final which he won 6-3 6-1 6-4.

Potential quarter-final opponent Dominic Thiem could be more awkward, having beaten Federer twice in 2016.

However, Thiem disappointed at the Erste Bank Open in his native Austria last week, losing 6-4 5-7 1-6 to Richard Gasquet in the second round, and is by no means certain to come through a likely last-16 clash with US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson.

Dominic Thiem is a potential quarter-final opponent for Roger Federer

Federer looks highly likely to reach the final and so does Nadal, despite being housed in the more competitive top half of the draw.

Danger men Grigor Dimitrov, Del Potro and Alexander Zverev are also in the top half of the draw but, crucially, none of them can meet Nadal until the semi-finals.

Nadal has a fairly straightforward path to the last four and would not lose sleep over facing Zverev or Dimitrov, due to respective head-to-head advantages of 3-0 and 10-1.

The biggest threat to Nadal is Del Potro, who has won five of 14 previous meetings.

Del Potro has reached two finals since reaching the US Open semi-finals, defeating Dimitrov in the Stockholm final and losing to Federer in Basel.

However, the Argentinian has got through a lot of work over the last two weeks and, after putting everything into his loss to Federer, he may be vulnerable in the early rounds.

Del Potro is interestingly priced at 16-1 but the safer bet is to focus on Federer and back the Swiss for a third successive tournament victory.

R Federer
3pts 5-2 Betbright, Coral, Ladbrokes

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Nadal has been resting since his return from China but Federer has stayed on the winning trail
E.W. Terms
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