On the professional tennis circuit, most of the top ranked players visit the city of Paris twice an year in order to compete in two extremely vital tournaments. The capital of France is home to the only slam played on clay courts – the Roland Garros. Apart from the French Open, the second most important tournament is the Paris Masters that is held in Bercy. The indoor event has seen an alteration in its turf quite frequently between carpet and hard courts before it permanently shifted to hard courts in 2007. Only four players have managed to win both the Parisian tournaments in the history of tennis.
Former World No.1 Ilie Nastase was the first person to complete the French Open – Paris Masters double and was the only one to do so in the same calendar year. In 1973, the ATP rankings were published for the first time and Ilie Nastase was the first player to hold the No.1 position. Nastase was undisputedly the most successful player for the year of 1973. He won 17 titles (combined singles and doubles) in that season. The Romanian was seeded second at the French Open and cruised to his second French Open final without dropping a set. Nastase had lost to Jan Kodes in the 1971, but this time the Romanian won the title by defeating Nikola Pilic in the finals 6-3 6-3 6-0 to clinch his second and final slam title of his career.
Stan Smith was the defending champion at the 1973 Paris Masters which was played on hard courts. The American made it to the finals of the event in 1973 yet again and was up against World No.1 Ilie Nastase. In a best of five sets match, Nastase lost two of the first three sets but the Bucharest Backfire won the match eventually 4-6 6-1 3-6 6-0 6-2.
Andre Agassi was not even a part of the Top 20 players when the 1994 season began. Losing in the earlier stages of Roland Garros and Wimbledon dipped him to a ranking of No.32. However, at that time Agassi had just hired Brad Gilbert as his new coach. Success came to the American in the American hard court season where he won his first major at the US Open. A few months later Agassi entered the Paris Masters seeded eighth. “The Punisher,” as he was fondly known, defeated four seeded players en route the title, one of which included a straight sets win over top seed Pete Sampras. By the end of the season Agassi was second only to Sampras in the year-end rankings.
By 1999, Agassi had reached the World No.1 spot on multiple occasions but had never held it long enough to finish as the year-end No.1 player. In 1999, Agassi came back from a 0-2 deficit in the final of Roland Garros to clinch a momentous victory over Andrei Medvedev and became the first player to win all four majors on three different surfaces. He was also back then, the fifth player to complete the career slam. Months later, Agassi entered the carpet courts of Paris Masters, now as a top seed. In the finals, he defeated Marat Safin and became the second player to win both the Parisian tournaments. The American would finish the year as the No.1 ranked player, ending Pete Sampras’ record streak of finishing the year as the No.1 player for six consecutive years (1993-1998).
Roger Federer was in the prime stages of his career since 2004. The Swiss was ranked as the No.1 player for many weeks and was often in a tussle for the numero uno spot along with his arch rival Rafael Nadal. By 2008, Federer had won each grand slam at least thrice except the Roland Garros which he was yet to win. From 2006 till 2008, Federer and Nadal contested the finals of Roland Garros but each time, it was the Spaniard who would grab his hands on the La Coupe de Mousquetaires. In 2009, yet again both Federer and Nadal entered the semis of Roland Garros. While Federer won his semis match, Nadal was shocked by Sweden’s Robin Soderling which ended his three-consecutive title streak at the French Open. This made Federer a heavy favourite for the title. The Swiss comfortably won the match and completed the career grand slam. After this win, the now 20-time Grand Slam champion was then tied with Pete Sampras in most the major titles count at 14.
In 2011, Nadal and Federer once again contested the finals of the French Open, which was yet again won by Nadal. Federer was ranked No.4 at the beginning of the season and made it his first season after years where he did not win even one slam title. He made his ninth appearance at the Paris Masters that year and was seeded third for the event. He won the event for the first time and did so in a magnificent way without dropping any set. He defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the finals 6-1 7-6. Few months later both players would yet again face each other, this time on a bigger stage at the year-end finals. Federer would win this fixture as well and end his year as the World No.3.
In 2009, when Novak Djokovic entered the Paris Masters for the fifth time, he was a one-time grand slam champion. The Serb was ranked No.3 back then and was seeded third for the Paris Masters. Top seed Roger Federer’s first round loss meant that second seed Rafael Nadal would be the favorite for the title. However, in the semis, the Spaniard lost 6-3 6-2 against Djokovic who would go on to win the title by defeating Gael Monfils in three-sets in the finals. Back then it was the fifth Masters event won by the Serbian.
In 2011, Djokovic reached the No.1 spot in the rankings for the first time and was the year-end No.1 for 2011 and 2012. In 2013, Nadal edged past Djokovic and finished the year-end as the No.1 player. However, Djokovic reached the finals at three majors, winning one of them at the Australian Open and won three Masters titles, one of which was at Bercy. Seeded second at the Paris Indoors of 2013, Djokovic defeated the likes of John Isner, Stan Wawrinka, Roger Federer and David Ferrer to win his first title in Paris. The following year, Djokovic entered the event as the top seed and successfully defended his title without dropping a set. In the process, the Serb who was then a seven time grand slam champion, became the first man to defend a title in Bercy. In 2015, Djokovic completed a hat-trick of titles at Bercy when he defeated second seed Andy Murray in the finals. Djokovic became the all-time leader in winning the most titles at Paris Masters.
When 2016 arrived, Djokovic, at the peak of his form was gunning for one title that he was yet to win – Roland Garros. Djokovic had reached the finals thrice before, losing twice to Nadal and once to Stan Wawrinka. For the third consecutive year in 2016, Djokovic reached the finals of Roland Garros. With Roger Federer skipping his maiden slam of the 21st century Rafael Nadal pulling out of the tournament in the third round due to a wrist injury and defending champion Stan Wawrinka being defeated in the semis, nothing could have stopped Djokovic from completing the career slam. As expected by the masses, Djokovic outperformed the Brit and won the much awaited title at Roland Garros, thereby becoming the fourth man to win both the Parisian events. Djokovic ended the 2016 season ranked No.2 in the world.