Novak Djokovic survived a tricky match on Thursday evening to reach the quarter finals of the Rolex Paris Masters at the Accord Arena where the final ATP 1000 event is being staged in the French capital.
It could have easily gone his way, but overall, I played a good tiebreak and I started to feel better in the third. I’m really, really glad to overcome this challenge. Novak Djokovic
The six-time champion, clear favourite to pocket his seventh title following the demise of his main rivals, Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev, had to battle for two-hours, 34-minutes before securing his last eight place 4-6 7-6(2) 6-4 over Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor.
The 27-year-old from Haarlem, Holland, took full advantage of a slow starting Serb, to sweep into a 3-0 lead in the first set which was enough for Griekspoor to snatch the opener,
Both players missed early chances in the second, but the world No.1 held on for the tie-break which he comfortably took to level the match.
In the third it was Djokovic who made the breakthrough to take control and held on to claim the victory, when he admitted he has also been struggling with some stomach bug!
“I don’t want to take anything away from his performance. He didn’t drop the level,” Djokovic said on winning is 15th consecutive match since losing the Wimbledon final.
“Maybe in the third set a few games he did a bit, but he was playing at a very high level and credit to him for that performance. If he would be the winner tonight, it would be absolutely deserved.
“I started off well, but I ran out of steam. I’ve been struggling the last couple of days with my stomach, and I just didn’t feel myself at all. I was just trying to hold my serve and get to a tiebreak, which happened in the second. I got lucky on a couple of shots there. It could have easily gone his way, but overall, I played a good tiebreak and I started to feel better in the third. I’m really, really glad to overcome this challenge.”
His next though, in the last eight, might be a bit tougher as he faces the defending champion, Denmark’s Holger Rune, the sixth seed, in a rematch of last year’s final.
The 20-year-old Dane, who continues to show improvement, required just 80-minutes to dispatch Germany’s Daniel Altmeir 6-3 6-3 to hold his current eighth place in Race for Turin which is coming under increasing pressure from the Pole Hubert Hurkacz, seeded 11, a comfortable 6-4 6-3 winner over Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo,
Next up for the Pole is Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov who also cruised through to the quarters with a straight sets win, defeating Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublic 6-2 6-2 in just 67-minutes.
In the top match of the day, Stefanos Tsitsipas emerged the winner against Alexander Zverev to finally secure his place in the Turin line-up.
The Greek, seeded 7th, had the measure of his German rival, seeded 16, as he took control of the match following a tight first set to inflict his 9th win over Zverev in 13meetings.
Tsitsipas struck 10 aces (7 in the first set) and broke Zverev at the start the second in which the German failed to force any break points, slumping to defeat after one-hour, 59-minutes.
“It’s awesome. What a great relief to finally get that spot,” Tsitsipas said on finally qualifying for this year’s ATP Finals in Turin later this month.
“I’ve been working extremely hard the whole year… and it’s a moment of relief that I’ve made it to one of my favourite events of the year and I get the opportunity to play in front of my Italian fans, but also get some Greek people in.”
Tsitsipas will now take on the former champion, the Russian Karen Khachanov, winner in 2018, who eliminated his countryman, Roman Safiullin, 4-6 6-4 6-2, who was unable to repeat the form which saw him get the better of Carlos Alcaraz, the second seed in the previous round.
The fifth seeded Andrey Rublev, also from Russia, required just 64-minutes to ease past Botic Van De Zandschulp of The Netherlands 6-3 6-3 and will face Alex De Minaur next, the Australian having been handed a walkover by the fourth seed Jannik Sinner, the Italian citing fatigue having only finished his second round match at 2.37am that morning!