Nadal, Djokovic Edge Closer To Possible Paris Final Meeting

Novak Djokovic,                                                                 Rafal Nadal

 

 

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, fighting it out for the year-end world number one spot, edged closer to a possible Paris Masters final clash as both eased into the last four on Friday.

The 33-year-old Nadal, who can secure the end-of-year top ranking ahead of Djokovic by winning his maiden Bercy title, beat French wildcard Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

Nadal is bidding for a record-extending 36th Masters crown and will take on Denis Shapovalov in the last four on Saturday after the Canadian youngster thrashed Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-2.

The Spaniard has reached the semis for the first time at the event since 2013, having withdrawn injured before the quarter-finals on his last appearance in 2017.

“I’ve had a lot of injuries in this tournament (historically),” said Nadal. “I’m happy to be back in the semi-finals.”

Djokovic had earlier crushed seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1, 6-2 and will next face Grigor Dimitrov, who saw off unseeded Chilean Cristian Garin 6-2, 7-5.

Nadal has now reached 73 Masters semi-finals in total and is two wins away from his 85th ATP title, but only third indoors.

Tsonga was rock solid on serve in a first set which did not see a single service game from either player even reach deuce.

But second seed Nadal stepped it up in the tie-break, with two incredible winners on the run helping him take a crucial one-set lead.

Tsonga’s serve briefly deserted him in the second game of the second set, as successive double faults allowed Nadal to claim the first break of the match and he then sped to victory.

Djokovic swats aside Tsitsipas

Djokovic said he played “one of his best matches of the season” to thrash Tsitsipas.

The 32-year-old dispatched his Greek opponent in only 58 minutes.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion went into the match with a 2-1 losing record against Tsitsipas, but put the young world number seven in his place with a commanding victory.

“I played one of the best matches of the season,” said Djokovic. “I prepared myself very well for this match.

“I lost to Stefanos about three weeks ago in Shanghai. And obviously I went through the videos and understanding of what I did well, what I didn’t do so well, what I can do better.”

Djokovic will be usurped by Nadal at the top of the rankings next week, but can ensure the race to be the best player at the end of the year reaches the ATP Tour Finals in London by winning a fifth Paris Masters title.

The defeat ended Tsitsipas’ run of three consecutive semi-finals and dealt a blow to his confidence ahead of his maiden appearance at the season-ending championships, which start on November 10.

Djokovic holds an 8-1 winning head-to-head record against Dimitrov.

“He (Dimitrov) has been one of the best talents we had in the sport in the last decade,” said Djokovic, who is bidding to tie Pete Sampras’ record of finishing as the year-end number one on six occasions.

“He’s been playing some terrific tennis this week… I don’t play too bad myself, so it’s going to be for sure a good one.”

Dimitrov marches on

Former world number three Dimitrov last reached the semis at a Masters tournament in Monte Carlo in 2018 but has rediscovered his form in recent weeks after heading into the US Open ranked 78th.

The Bulgarian became the lowest-ranked player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since 2008 at Flushing Meadows, before losing to Daniil Medvedev.

World number 42 Garin, playing in his first Masters quarter-final, served for the second set at 5-4, but the 28-year-old Dimitrov reeled off three straight games to claim an impressive victory.

Shapovalov cruised into the fourth Masters semi-final of his young career by ending Monfils’ bid to reach the ATP Finals.

Home favourite Monfils was one victory away from pipping Italian Matteo Berrettini to a ticket to London but was blown away by a brilliant Shapovalov performance.

“He (Berrettini) had better give me a bottle of wine or something,” joked world number 28 Shapovalov.

AFP

Djokovic Sets Up Tsitsipas Clash As Dimitrov Beats Thiem

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to France’s Corentin Moutet during their men’s singles tennis match on day three of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 – Rolex Paris Masters – indoor tennis tournament at The AccorHotels Arena in Paris on October 30, 2019.  AFP

 

Novak Djokovic saw off Britain’s Kyle Edmund on Thursday to reach his eighth Paris Masters quarter-final, while Grigor Dimitrov knocked out fifth seed Dominic Thiem.

Top seed Djokovic, battling Rafael Nadal for the year-end world number one spot, needed seven set points in the first set before winning 7-6 (9/7), 6-1.

“It was good. I wasn’t really feeling comfortable in the first set,” said the 32-year-old, who has been struggling with the flu this week.

“It was a bit like yesterday (against Corentin Moutet). I hope to be better in the next match.”

The 16-time Grand Slam champion is chasing a record-extending fifth Bercy title and will next face world number seven Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4.

The 21-year-old Tsitsipas leads his head-to-head with Djokovic 2-1, after victories at the Shanghai Masters earlier this month and the 2018 Canadian Open.

Djokovic is hoping to tie Pete Sampras’ record of finishing six years as the world’s best player, but Nadal can be sure of denying the Serbian that achievement with a maiden Paris title this week.

The Spaniard takes on three-time Grand Slam title-winner Stan Wawrinka in his third-round match later on Thursday.

World number 75 Edmund, hoping to push for a place in Britain’s Davis Cup squad, held his own in the first set, saving two set points to send the opener to a tie-break.

He then rallied from 6-3 down in the breaker to level at 7-7, saving four more set points as his powerful forehand started to dominate, but Djokovic finally took it at the seventh time of asking with a winner up the line.

Edmund’s resistance was ended as Djokovic broke to love in the third game of the second set en route to a run of six straight games which secured an ultimately comfortable victory.

 Dimitrov downs Thiem 

Former world number three Dimitrov produced a fantastic performance to beat fifth seed Thiem 6-3, 6-2 and reach the last eight in Paris for the first time.

It will also be the Bulgarian’s first Masters quarter-final since the Canadian Open last year as he continues his rise up the rankings.

Dimitrov was the world number 78 heading into the US Open, but reached the semi-finals and is now ranked 27th.

The 28-year-old, who had dispatched 12th seed David Goffin in round two, defended brilliantly throughout as two-time French Open runner-up Thiem appeared to feel the effects of winning his home title in Vienna last weekend.

Dimitrov will take on Cristian Garin for a semi-final spot, after the unseeded Chilean saved three match points in a deciding-set tie-break to end the run of French qualifier Jeremy Chardy.

The world number 42 claimed five straight points to close out victory, winning 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) to book his maiden Masters quarter-final.

“It was a really tough fight, Jeremy is such a good player. I played my best,” said Garin.

Greek star Tsitsipas, who has reached at least the semis in each of his last three tournaments, eased past De Minaur, ending the Australian’s hopes of qualifying for next month’s ATP Tour Finals in London.

AFP

Federer Withdraws From Paris Masters

Swiss Roger Federer returns a ball to Australian Alex De Minaur during their final match at the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament in Basel on October 27, 2019. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

 

World number three Roger Federer announced on Monday that he was withdrawing from this week’s Paris Masters in order to “pace” himself for the next year. 

“I am extremely disappointed to have to pull out of the Paris Masters,” he said in a statement.

“I have to pace myself since I want to play as long as possible on the ATP Tour.

“I am sorry for my French fans who I will see next year at Roland Garros.”

Tournament director Guy Forget said he was “disappointed” with Federer’s late decision to withdraw.

The 38-year-old Federer warned on Sunday after winning his 10th Basel title that he may skip the trip to Paris.

“My fitness is fine, I’m happy with how I feel,” he said.

“I just don’t know if I should play next week. I’ll figure it out with the team.”

Federer returned to the Paris Masters last year for the first time since 2015 and reached the semi-finals where he lost a three-set semi-final thriller to Novak Djokovic, who is top seed ahead of Rafael Nadal in the French capital this year.

Federer will be replaced by a lucky loser in the main draw.

AFP

Djokovic Proud Of ‘Achievements’ Despite Loss To Khachanov

Winner Russia’s Karen Khachanov (R) and second placed Serbia’s Novak Djokovic pose with their trophies after their men’s singles final tennis match on day seven of the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 – Rolex Paris Masters – indoor tennis tournament at The AccorHotels Arena in Paris, on November 4, 2018. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic said he was proud of his “most amazing last five months” despite losing to Karen Khachanov in Sunday’s Paris Masters final ahead of his return to world number one.

The 14-time Grand Slam winner will replace long-time rival Rafael Nadal at the top of the rankings on Monday, capping an astonishing revival that began with a fourth Wimbledon title in July.

Djokovic’s elevation is remarkable as it comes just five months after he slumped to 22nd in the world  — his lowest ranking for 12 years — when he was knocked out of the French Open in the quarter-finals.

“I’m satisfied of course and I’m going to be No. 1 tomorrow officially. And what more can I ask for? I won 20-plus matches in a row and had a most amazing last five months of the year,” Djokovic said following his 7-5, 6-4 defeat by Russia’s Khachanov.

“I’m getting into the season finale with a lot of confidence and feeling good about my game. Hopefully health-wise, physically I’ll be fine in a week’s time when it all starts in London (ATP Tour Finals).”

Djokovic backed up his success at Wimbledon with three titles in a row — at Cincinnati, the US Open and Shanghai — before his 22-match winning run was ended by an inspired Khachanov.

He refused to blame the exertions of an exhilarating three-hour showdown with Roger Federer in Saturday’s semi-finals after missing out on a fifth Paris Masters crown.

“I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about how well he (Khachanov) played all week, he absolutely deserved to win the match today.

“So all the credit to him. He deserves it. He’s a young player, up and coming. But the already established player, top player. And he showed great quality today and he showed why we’re going to see a lot of him in the future.”

Djokovic will round out his year in London at the season-ending Tour Finals, which run from November 11-18, as he attempts to win the competition for a sixth time to draw level with the record held by Federer.

“Now it’s recovery time half of the week and half of the week training.”

AFP

Djokovic Beats Federer To Reach Paris Masters Final

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning against Switzerland’s Roger Federer at the end of their men’s singles semi-final tennis match at The AccorHotels Arena in Paris, on November 3, 2018. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in a thrilling semi-final at the Paris Masters on Saturday to extend his winning run to 22 matches ahead of his return to world number one next week.

The Serb outlasted Federer in just over three hours to prevail 7-6 (8/6), 5-7, 7-6 (7/3).

He will meet Russia’s Karen Khachanov in Sunday’s final as he looks to pull level with Rafael Nadal on 33 career Masters titles.

Djokovic, who will replace an injury-plagued Nadal at the top of the rankings on Monday, now leads Federer 25-22 overall and has not lost to the Swiss since 2015.

“Novak is obviously on a roll. You can feel it. At the end it came down to a few things here and there,” said Federer, who returned to play in Paris this week for the first time in three years.

“But overall I’m happy with my game. It’s better than last week in Basel. There I won the tournament and here I played in the semis and it needed somebody of Novak’s calibre to beat me.

“So that’s all right. And I’m looking forward to a rest now and a good preparation for London (ATP Finals).”

Djokovic will go in search of a fifth Paris trophy after denying Federer a shot at a historic 100th title, although the Wimbledon and US Open champion was pushed all the way by his 37-year-old rival.

Djokovic watched four break points, one of which Federer saved with a magnificent reflex volley, go by as he led 4-3 in the opening set, before saving a set point on his serve in the tie-break.

A Federer backhand drifted wide to hand Djokovic the lead, although two more break points passed the Serb by in the first game of the second set with the Swiss on the ropes.

The missed opportunity proved costly when Federer conjured up just a second break point of the contest at 6-5, converting in style as he gambled on Djokovic going cross-court before batting a winner down the line to force a decider.

Federer fended off two more break points to open the third set as Djokovic hit the deck when his ankle appeared to catch in the surface.

The Serb threw his racket down in frustration as Federer again escaped from 15-40 down to move 5-4 ahead, but the 20-time Grand Slam champion’s magic fizzled out as the final set headed to a tie-break.

Djokovic reeled off six successive points to bring up five match points, clinching victory at the third attempt when Federer picked out the net to end a tense concluding rally.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic (L) and Switzerland’s Roger Federer shake hands at the end of their match. Photo: Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

Khachanov breaks new ground

Earlier, the 22-year-old Khachanov advanced to his first Masters final after beating Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-1.

“I’m really happy to achieve this, to make it to the finals. But the tournament is not over. I mean, I’m looking forward to play finals tomorrow,” said the 18th-ranked Khachanov.

Going into the Paris Masters, Khachanov had won just three of his 19 matches against players in the Top 10 but it took him just 71 minutes to add the scalp of world number eight Thiem to those of John Isner (9) and Alexander Zverev (5) whom he beat earlier in the week.

The 1.98m Khachanov dominated from the baseline and attacked the Thiem service, breaking the Austrian in his final five service games of the match.

The Russian number two now has 15 match wins at this level this year, including a trip to the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.

Khachanov has also won two ATP World Tour titles in 2018 with triumphs in Marseille and at the Kremlin Cup.

“I am very happy with the way I have been playing,” said the Russian who is assured of climbing at least to 12th in the ATP rankings when they are published on Monday.

AFP

Djokovic Hails ‘Phenomenal Achievement’, Federer Three Wins From 100th Title

Djokovic To Face Nishikori In US Open Semis
Novak Djokovic. (File) Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 

Novak Djokovic described his return to the world number one ranking as “a phenomenal achievement” on Thursday as he and old rival Roger Federer coasted into the Paris Masters quarter-finals.

Four-time Paris champion Djokovic made the last-eight when Bosnian opponent Damir Dzumhur retired trailing 6-1, 2-1.

Federer defeated Italy’s Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3 as the Swiss great moved three wins away from his 100th career title.

Djokovic will replace Rafael Nadal as the world’s top player on Monday after a two-year absence.

The 31-year-old’s elevation is remarkable as it comes just five months after he slumped to 22 in the world — his lowest ranking for 12 years — when he was knocked out of the French Open in the quarter-finals.

Since then, however, he has won Wimbledon and the US Open, taking his Grand Slam tally to 14, winning 20 consecutive tour-level matches for the sixth time, and 29 of his past 30 encounters.

“Reflecting on what I’ve been through in the last year, it’s quite a phenomenal achievement,” said Djokovic who will face Marin Cilic for a spot in the semi-finals.

“I’m very, very happy and proud about it. Five months ago, it was highly improbable considering my ranking and the way I played and felt on the court.

“I’ll probably be able to speak more profoundly about it when the season is done and hopefully if I get to finish as No. 1.”

Federer, 37, who captured his 99th trophy on home ground in Basel last week, will face either Kevin Anderson of South Africa or Japan’s Kei Nishikori on Friday for a place in the semi-finals in the French capital.

Third seed Federer is playing the Paris Masters for the first time since 2015 and is bidding to clinch the tournament for just the second time after winning it in 2011.

“I think both of us were far from our best, but we fought with what we had and at the end I think I maybe served a bit better in the important moments than Fabio did,” said Federer who was playing his first match of the week after second round opponent Milos Raonic withdrew on Wednesday.

Djokovic was guaranteed a return to the ranking summit when Nadal withdrew from Paris with an abdominal injury on Wednesday.

Federer.                                                                                                   (File)Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

London places on the line

“It’s not the end of the season. Rafa obviously is struggling with injuries since the US Open. But the race is still there,” added Djokovic after extending his sequence of consecutive winning sets to 30, passing his previous best mark of 29 from 2015.

“Roger is in the race. Rafa is in the race. It depends on who is going to play the ATP Finals in London. So as I said, I can’t be too ecstatic about it.”

Cilic, the fifth seed, secured his quarter-final ticket with a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 defeat of Grigor Dimitrov.

Cilic fired 29 winners to advance to the last eight for the third straight year.

The win also improved the Croat’s prospects of making the ATP Finals in London starting on November 11.

“I am very close to London, to securing my spot mathematically,” said Cilic, who is part of the Croatia team facing France in the Davis Cup final at the end of this month.

“In the next match against Novak it will be another big challenge. (It will be) great to play him again.”

Cilic, who has beaten Djokovic just twice in 17 meetings, ended reigning ATP Finals champion Dimitrov’s season.

Djokovic and Cilic were joined in the quarter-finals by Karen Khachanov who saved two match points against John Isner on his way to defeating the eighth-seeded American 6-4, 6-7 (9/11), 7-6 (10/8).

The Russian will next play Alexander Zverev after the German fourth seed beat Diego Schwartzman of Argentina 6-4, 6-2.

Austrian sixth seed Dominic Thiem reached the quarter-finals in Paris for the first time, seeing off in-form Borna Coric 6-7 (3/7), 6-2, 7-5.

Thiem, also in contention for the ATP Finals, next faces defending champion Jack Sock of the United States.

AFP

Federer Confirms Paris Masters Participation

Struggling Federer Squeezes Into Basel Semi-Finals
Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after winning his quarter-final match against France’s Gilles Simon at the Swiss Indoors ATP 500 tennis tournament on October 26, 2018, in Basel. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Roger Federer on Tuesday confirmed his participation at this year’s Paris Masters after a three-year absence.

The Swiss world number three will play the winner of the tie between France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Canada’s Milos Raonic on Wednesday after receiving a bye in the first round.

“I feel like it’s better for me to play matches rather than practice, and I think that’s it. As long as I don’t feel like I’m taking a chance on my health prior to London (the ATP Tour Finals), that’s the key as well,” Federer said.

“I’m happy to play tomorrow. I feel like I recovered well from last week. So yeah, I’ll give it a go tomorrow. I’m excited,” he added, after winning the Swiss indoor championships in Basel on Sunday.

Federer’s only tournament victory in Bercy came in 2011. On his last appearance in 2015, he was knocked out by American John Isner in the round of 16.

It will be the first non-Grand Slam event to feature Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic since last year’s Indian Wells Masters.

Federer also revealed he had received an invite to take part in an exhibition featuring Nadal and Djokovic in Saudi Arabia in December, but the 37-year-old said he turned down the approach.

“I didn’t want to play there at that time. So, for me, it was a very quick decision,” said Federer.

Nadal and Djokovic are scheduled to meet in Jeddah on December 22, but they have faced growing calls to withdraw following the murder of a Saudi journalist in the country’s consulate in Istanbul.

Both players this week have said they are assessing the situation and have yet to make a final decision over their participation.

Meanwhile, French hopes of success in Paris were dented when Pierre-Hugues Herbert, Jeremy Chardy and Benoit Paire were eliminated in the first round on Tuesday.

World number 57 Herbert was beaten by Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin in three sets (3-6, 6-3, 7-5) while Jeremy Chardy, ranked 40th, lost 6-4, 6-4 to Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.

The 56th-ranked Paire made the opening round through the qualifiers but lost 6-4, 6-4 to Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

Nadal Battles Past Cuevas To Reach Paris Quarters

 

Spain’s Rafael Nadal  Photo: CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

 

World number one Rafael Nadal overcame a second-set blip to reach the Paris Masters quarter-finals on Thursday with a 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 victory over Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas.

The Spaniard, 31, had sealed the year-end number one spot for a fourth time on Wednesday, but he was made to work hard by an enterprising Cuevas.

Nadal is looking for his maiden title on the Bercy hard courts, which would take him clear of Novak Djokovic with a record 31st Masters triumph.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion will take on world number 77 Filip Krajinovic in the quarters, after the Serb beat Nicolas Mahut 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.

“It was a very difficult match, Pablo is a very good player,” Nadal said in his on-court interview.

“It’s always hard playing someone for the first time, but I will do my best (against Krajinovic).”

Nadal started far stronger than he did in Wednesday’s win over Hyeon Chung, breaking early on thanks to a couple of trademark forehands.

Cuevas played his part during the first set in front of a near-capacity crowd, hitting an outrageous ‘hot-dog’ shot between his legs for an outright winner.

But Nadal held after a tough service game for a 4-1 lead before closing out the opener on his fourth set point.

The reigning French and US Open champion has only won two of his 75 ATP titles indoors, with just one at this level coming at the 2005 Madrid Masters.

He broke in the third game of the second set, only to hand Cuevas a lifeline with a string of uncharacteristic unforced errors as the world number 36 hit straight back.

The South American forced a tie-break, but after Nadal had moved 4-2 in front, the top seed dumped two volleys into the net and Cuevas levelled the match at the first opportunity.

Nadal called the trainer to have his knee taped before the third set and returned to the court reinvigorated, breaking serve in the second game with a fierce backhand down the line.

Cuevas also had to call the trainer after appearing to dislocate his thumb when sliding for the ball, but he grabbed the break back as Nadal struggled to put the match to bed.

That proved to be the unseeded player’s final show of resistance, though, as his illustrious opponent reeled off three successive games before wrapping up the match with a big serve out wide.

– Del Potro one win from London –

Earlier on Thursday, Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro closed in on a place for the World Tour Finals after beating Robin Haase 7-5, 6-4.

The former US Open champion will take the eighth and final qualification spot for London from Pablo Carreno Busta if he reaches the semi-finals at Bercy.

He will face ninth seed John Isner in the last eight after the American beat Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (12/10), 5-7, 7-6 (7/3).

Last year’s runner-up Isner will qualify for the Tour Finals if he wins the tournament in Paris.

“It’s going to be a good battle next round trying to qualify for London,” said Del Potro.

“But anyways, I think I have two ways to take, one is London, one is my home and vacation.

“Both ways are great to me, but of course, I would love to reach London once again.”

The South American’s victory means that 12-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic will drop out of the world’s top 10 next week for the first time since March 2007.

Belgian David Goffin sealed the penultimate Tour Finals spot despite slumping to a 6-3, 6-3 defeat by journeyman Frenchman Julien Benneteau.

Lucas Pouille’s slim chances of reaching London ended, though, as the home player lost 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 to the big-serving Jack Sock.

The American will next face veteran Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, who knocked out Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem with a 6-4, 6-4 victory to reach his first Masters quarter-final since 2012.

AFP

Nadal Seals Year-End Number One Ranking For 4th Time

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates winning against South Korea’s Hyeon Chung during their second round match at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 indoor tennis tournament on November 1, 2017 in Paris. CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal secured the year-end world number one ranking with a 7-5, 6-3 second-round victory over South Korean Hyeon Chung at the Paris Masters on Wednesday.

The 16-time Grand Slam champion is the oldest man to finish a season at the top of the rankings at the age of 31, after a year that saw him win the French and US Opens.

It is the fourth time the Spaniard, who started the season ninth in the rankings, has achieved the feat after 2008, 2010 and 2013.

“Of course it was not the goal (at the start of the season),” Nadal told a press conference.

“It was impossible for me to think about that when you are coming back from a tough period of time without playing tennis and with so many injuries in the last couple of years.

“But yes, here we are, (it) happened. And very happy of course. Means a lot, no? After almost 10 years since the first time that I finished the year with this number.”

Nadal went into the match knowing victory would give him an unassailable lead as world number one over old rival Roger Federer, after the Swiss legend withdrew before the start of the Paris tournament.

The 21-year-old Chung put up a brave fight, but a fired-up Nadal proved too hot to handle.

Nadal will next face Pablo Cuevas in the last 16 on Thursday, after the unseeded Uruguayan edged out Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/1), 6-2.

Victory in Sunday’s final in Paris would see Nadal move clear of Novak Djokovic with a record 31st Masters crown.

“I am on a good dynamic, playing well the whole season,” Nadal, who has only won two of his 75 ATP titles indoors, added.

– Del Potro boosts London hopes –
Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro gave his World Tour Finals bid a boost with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Portuguese qualifier Joao Sousa.

The 13th-seeded Argentinian needs to reach at least the semi-finals to take the eighth qualifying spot from Pablo Carreno Busta, who was dumped out by French wildcard Nicolas Mahut on Tuesday.

The 29-year-old was 47th in the points standings before the US Open in August, but an excellent run of form during which he reached the semi-finals at Flushing Meadows and won the Stockholm Open title has dragged him back into contention.

Del Potro will face unseeded Dutchman Robin Haase in the last 16.

But Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga failed in his efforts to reach the season-ending eight-man event with a surprise 2-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 defeat by compatriot and world number 83 Julien Benneteau.

Another home player, Lucas Pouille, kept his slim hopes of reaching London alive by seeing off Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4, but US Open runner-up Kevin Anderson’s chances ended with a 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 loss to Fernando Verdasco.

Bulgarian world number eight Grigor Dimitrov, who has already booked his ticket for the Tour Finals, knocked out French favourite Richard Gasquet with a straightforward 6-4, 6-4 win.

Earlier on Wednesday, fourth seed Alexander Zverev was dumped out by Haase in a 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 second-round defeat.

The 20-year-old German lost his composure after easing through the first set, as his bid for a third Masters title of the season was abruptly ended.

AFP

Andy Murray To Become World’s Number One

Andy Murray, Olympics, Zika VirusBritain’s Andy Murray will become world’s number one tennis player for the first time after Milos Raonic withdrew from their Paris Masters semi-final.

Murray needed only to reach the final in Paris after current number one Novak Djokovic lost to Marin Cilic in Friday’s quarter-final.

Canadian Raonic, however, announced before Saturday’s match that he was injured.

Murray will be the first British singles player to hold top spot since computerised rankings began in 1973.

On the other hand, John Isner has cruised to a straight-sets victory over Marin Cilic to meet Murray in the finals.

This means that Isner would finish the year as the number one American for the fifth consecutive year.

Tennis: Tsonga Appoints New Coaches

French tennis star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has appointed the duo of Thierry Ascione and Nicolas Escude as his new coaches.

Tsonga has appointed former world number 17 Escude and former top 100 player Ascione, in an attempt to emulate the recent success of compatriot, Richard Gasquet who has risen to French number 1 after including 2 men in his coaching set-up.

“We have begun this project at my suggestion and I am really pleased to begin a new phase of my career with them both,” Tsonga said in Bercy, where he is taking part in the Paris Masters.

“I’ve been looking for the ideal situation for some time, and I feel best with them.”

Ascione has developed a strong coaching reputation due to his work with Kristina Mladenovic and Nicholas Mahut, while Escude has a long-standing rapport with the 28-year-old former world number 5 being his former Davis Cup team-mate.

Ascione will not be able to accompany Tsonga to all his events because of other commitments, which is where Escude steps in.

Having reached but lost the 2008 Australian Open final, Escude is targeting a maiden Grand Slam title for Tsonga, but says success will be measured by Tsonga’s world ranking.

“Of course we will go for all 4 (Slams), but the important thing for us is to see a rapid movement up the rankings,” Escude said.

“If, after 1 year, he is still at the same place, we will not have succeeded in our mission.”

World number 10, Tsonga parted ways with former coach, Roger Rasheed at the end of August and has since then been without a coach.