The last Masters of this season has brought together all the big guns to Paris as well as the Pretenders to the crown.
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 Roger Federer
But the big news to break first before any of that action took place, was the withdrawal of the world number three Roger Federer who, 24 hours earlier, had collected his 10th title in Basel to record the 103rd of his career, just 6 behind Jimmy Connors’ all-time record.
It was a surprise for all the fans but as he explained in his statement, it was a protective measure bearing in mind his age!
“I am extremely disappointed to have to pull out of the Paris Masters,” Federer said. “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.”
Speaking after his win on Sunday at the Swiss Indoor, he admitted he is getting older.
“It’s not a problem that the season is almost over. It’s more of a problem that I’m at the end of my career. I feel like everything happened so fast. That makes me a bit sad sometimes. But I know I’m gonna be OK when the moment comes. I know it could be over quickly: An injury, something happens to someone in my family.
“That’s why I need to have the perspective, the distance. I know it could be over any moment.”
So after his recuperation Federer will join the likes of Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Theim and Stefanos Tsitsipas in London at the O2 for their end-of-season extravaganza, the Nitto ATP Finals.
Two places sre stll up for grabs with the defending champion, Alexander Zverev lying in seventh place and Matteo Berrettini at eight. Both need to reach the Paris Masters final to ensure qualification and both are in the bottom half of the draw. And there four players who could spoil their hopes of joining the prestigious field.
The first day’s action at the AccordHotels Arena in Paris, saw Britain’s No.2 Cameron Norrie unsuccessfully take on the big serving Canadian Milos Raonic who won comfortably 6-3 6-2.
Norrie, ranked 57, who came through qualifying, found the world No. 32’s serving too hot to handle. Wit 14 aces blasted past him, and despite a 69% first serve success, 97% of them led to a winning point. Even his second serves produced an 87% conversion rate while on the receiving end, the 6’5” Canadian won 26 points as compared to the Briton’s 6.
It was Raonic’s first win in his second match since a two month lay-off with a back injury but his comeback may well be halted in the next round when he faces last week’s Vienna champion Dominic Thiem, the fifth seed.
In other first round matches, Marin Cilic dispatched Hubert Hurkacz in the first match of the day, 7-6(5) 6-4 and will take on Stan Wawrinka, the 16th seed in round two.
Also through is Radu Albot of Moldovia who avenged his loss in Shanghai with a 6-3 6-2 victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili to take on Andreas Seppi, the Lucky Loser who benefited from Federer’s withdrawal, in the next round.