Paris | Edmund tests Djokovic on day two top seeds fall
Novak Djokovic brought to an end Kyle Edmund’s spirited run at the Rolex Paris Masters in Bercy but not before the British No.3 had provided him with a testing opening set.
It was good. I wasn't really feeling comfortable in the first set Novak Djokovic
But the big news of the day was the elimination of two high seeds, Dominic Thiem (5) and Alexander Zverev (6), the former losing to Grigor Dimitrov and the latter falling to Denis Shapovalov.
Top seed Djokovic needed seven set points in the first set before winning 7-6(7) 6-1 to reach the quarter finals of the last Masters of the 2019 season.
World number 75 Edmund, playing for a place in Britain’s Davis Cup squad for Madrid, held his own in the first set, saving two set points to send the opener to a tie-break.
The 24-year-old 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 down the line.
The loss of the opening set saw Edmund’s resistance erode 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.
“It was good. I wasn’t really feeling comfortable in the first set,” Djokovic admitted. “It was a bit like yesterday (against Corentin Moutet). I hope to be better in the next match.
“I was feeling energy-wise better and felt more alert, just more strength, more energy, more speed,” added the 32-year-old, who 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 ending the young Australian’s hopes of qualifying for next month’s ATP Tour Finals in London.
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.
“He (Tsitsipas) is one of the best players in the world,” said Djokovic. “He’s already (an) established player.
“He’s (an) all-around player, plays very well on all surfaces. He has great work ethic, very dedicated. Let the better player win, I guess.”
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.
As things stand, it looks like the Serb will have to overcome Rafa Nadal in the final as the Spaniard, who will take over as No.1 on Monday, is favourite to end the year in that spot.
The 33-year-old Nadal though has his own concerns. In six previous attempts he has never won the Paris Masters and has only won two indoor titles in his career, but by winning his maiden Bercy title, he would also secure the year-end top spot before next month’s ATP Tour Finals in London.
Nadal produced an impressive display to take his career head-to-head record against three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka to 19-3 with a clinical 6-4 6-4 victory.
“That’s the beautiful thing about this sport, (to) have the capacity to adapt yourself to the different conditions,” said the 12-time French Open winner, who received treatment for a stomach complaint from the doctor in the second set.
Nadal will face 2008 champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last eight after the French wildcard saved two match points to edge out Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 2-6 6-4 7-6(6).
“I have a match against a player that is playing well,” said Nadal. “I need to do a lot of things well, but I hope to be ready to make that happen.”
Former world number three Dimitrov produced a fantastic performance to beat fifth seed Thiem 6-3 6-2 and reach the quarter-finals in Paris for the first time as the Bulgarian continues his rise back up the rankings, from 78 prior to the US Open to his current 27.
The 28-year-old, who had dispatched 12th seed David Goffin in round two, defended brilliantly as last week’s Vienna champion Thiem’s game fell below his usual standards.
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) 6-4 7-6(6) to book his maiden Masters quarter-final.
Gael Monfils moved to within one win of reaching the ATP Finals for a second time by coming back from a set and a break down to defeat Moldova’s Radu Albot 4-6 6-4 6-1.
The 33-year-old fell a break down at 4-3 in the second set but rallied with the help of the home crowd to secure his victory ten-minutes short of midnight local time.
The French 13th seed will next face Denis Shapovalov, after the Canadian youngster beat sixth seed Alexander Zverev for the first time 6-2 5-7 6-2.
In a scrappy match which saw the pair defend 30 break points of which the Canadian converted five of the 17 he forced on the German while, fending off 11 of the 13 he faced himself.
Shapovalov broke serve twice in the third and fifth games to race out to a 5-1 lead and served out the opening set after saving a break point in the eighth game.
Zverev meanwhile, saved five break points in the first game of the second set and converted his second break point in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead only to lose his advantage and the regain it on his fifth break point to win the second set.
Shapovalov stamped his authority on the decider by going up a double break to open up a 5-2 lead and serve out for the win after two hours and 9-minutes, but only after saving three break points.
It was the Canadian’s first win in four meetings with the German in what should develop into an interesting rivalry over the years to come.