Fritz ousts Norrie to take on Djokovic

Novak Djokovic arrived in the French capital for the last Masters of the season following a seven-week regeneration period to recover from the shock of failing to win a rare career grand slam at the US Open, by declaring he needed match play.

Obviously now I am playing my best tennis, so I think if there was a time, it would be now that I can really push him. Taylor Fritz

So far the Serbian world No.1 and top seed at the Rolex Paris Masters, has only been granted one opportunity in which he showed a certain amount of rustiness before going through to the third round in three sets, where his opponent, Gael Monfils handed him a walk-over having picked up a groin injury in his last match against his French compatriot Adrian Mannarino on Wednesday.

Djokovic will consequently be playing the 24-year-old Taylor Fritz, the American who brought Cameron Norrie’s run to an end and possibly, also ended the Briton’s hopes of qualifying for the ATP Finals in Turin.

For Fritz the occasion will help erase the memory of his last visit to Paris when he departed last summer’s French Open in a wheelchair following his four-set loss to Dominik Koepfer thanks to a torn meniscus in his right knee.

No such problems in his match with the 10th seed and world No.14, Norrie, as he claimed his chance to play Djokovic 6-3 7-6(3) and the opportunity to avenge his five-set loss to the Serb at the Australian Open last January, by taking advantage of the Serbian’s lack of match practice.

In addition, the Californian is currently on a rich run of form having reached the semi-finals at Indian Wells and the final at St Petersburg last week, which he credits to his mentality.

“Definitely just my aggressive mindset, how I’m handling situations,” he said when asked what had improved in is game.

“I’m not playing important situations scared and tight. My forehand really has become such a weapon that I can rely on.”

As for the challenge that faces him in the next round in the form of Djokovic, Fritz agrees this could be his moment.

“I mean, it’s going to be a tough one,” said the American who also lost to Djokovic on clay in Rome on the eve of the French Open.

“You know, third time this year. I felt like the first two this year have been pretty close matches.

“Obviously now I am playing my best tennis, so I think if there was a time, it would be now that I can really push him.”

Daniil Medvedev steps into a backhand

Tnani Badreddine/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Meanwhile the man who upset Djokovic in the US Open final, Daniil Medvedev, the world No.2 and second seed, had to recover from a set down to beat another American, the rising star and son of Petr Korda, Sebastian 4-6 6-1 6-3.

“I’m really happy with myself, I managed to keep calm,” the US Open champion said of going a set behind.

“In the end physically was tough for both of us. That’s good I guess, that I played a three-setter.”

Medvedev will next face French qualifier Gaston Hugo who defeated the in-form 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain 6-4 7-5.

Alexander Zverev shakes hands with Grigor Dimitrov following their tight third round match

Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Also through is Alexander Zverev who is now just one match away from playing out a repeat of last years final which he lost to Medvedev.

Zverev, the Olympic champion seeded four, required two-hours and 46-minutes to overcome the Bulgarian 16th seed, Grigor Dimitrov 7-6(4) 6-7(3) 6-3.

The German failed to convert two match pints in the second set and also saved six break points in the decider before progressing to meet the sixth seeded Norwegian Casper Ruud, in Fridays quarter-finals.

“It was an incredible match,” Zverev said later.

“Grigor is playing very high-level tennis and I had to leave everything out there.”

In contrast Ruud cruised past American qualifier Marcos Giron 6-2 6-1, a victory which seals his place in the eight-man Turin Finals in two week’s time, a first for a Norwegian player.

“It’s been an unbelievable year that will have the perfect end to the season,” the 22-year-old from Oslo, who like his next opponent has won five titles this season, said.

With one final Turin spot still to be confirmed, Poland’s seventh seeded Hubert Hurkacz looks the most likely candidate to achieve that if he beats the unseeded Australian James Duckworth in the last eight, the Aussie having dispatched the battling Lucky Loser Koepfer of Germany, 4-6 7-5 6-2.

The left-hander has made the most of being handed a place in the main draw last Monday with just a couple of hour’s notice, following Jenson Brooksby’s withdrawal, by beating former world number one Andy Murray and then ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and looked as if he would continue his run when he took the first set against the Pole, only for his Lucky streak to come to an end.



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