Paris | Djokovic recovers to keep on track
Novak Djokovic entered the Paris Masters fray on Tuesday and scored a satisfactory 7-5 6-1 victory over Joao Sousa in what is the finals Masters 1000 event of the season.
Djokovic’s main rivals for the title, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer are yet to get off the mark and are scheduled to do so on Wednesday, the latter only just confirming that he will be playing for the first time since 2015.
Djokovic’s main aim this week is to do better than the World No.1 Nadal which would result in him taking over that top ranking for the year-end. And as the Serb has been the champion in Bercy on four occasions, he could well fulfil his ambition.
In his match with Sousa, who has never won a set off the Serb player in five previous meetings, was stunned by his opponent’s aggressive opening moments which took him into a 4-1 lead. However, despite looking a bit dejected and under the weather, Djokovic recovered by reeling off five games in a row to break Sousa’s resistance and go on to book a meeting with Damir Dzumhur in the next round.
Djokovic was forced to delay serving for the match when a spectator behind him fell ill in the front row. The doctor was called and while awaiting his arrival, the Serb quickly went to his chair to collect a towel for the stricken man. Play was resumed when the medics took the unfortunate man — and his partner — away for treatment.
The Serbian world No 2 was nearly broken when play resumed, but served out for his place in the last 16 and his meeting with Dzumhur who surprisingly ousted the 14th seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 6-3.
Raonic fired 23 aces as he outlasted France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-7(4) 7-6(5) 7-6(5) in his opening match to the disappointment of French fans.
Fifth seed Marin Cilic cruised into the third round with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber while Gilles Simon became the only one of six Frenchmen to advance on Tuesday, defeating compatriot Lucas Pouille 6-3 6-4 with Pierre-Hugues Herbert and qualifier Benoit Paire losing to Mikhail Kukushkin and Marton Fucsovics respectively.