Paris | Nadal withdraws
Dramatic news for the organisers on the day that the both Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer were scheduled to open their respective campaigns at the Paris Masters.
For Nadal a good run in Paris and winning more rounds than Novak Djokovic would mean he would repel the Serb’s goal of ending the year as world No.1
I started to feel a little bit [of an] abdominal [injury], especially when I was serving. I checked with the doctor and he said that he recommended to not play, because if I continued the abdominal may break and could become a major thing. And I really don’t want that Rafa Nadal
But the Spaniard has made life easy for his rival by withdrawing from the event thereby handing the 31-year-old the ultimate prize in ranking terms. His decision also casts doubt on his appearing at the O2 in two weeks time.
“It was great to be here in Paris for a couple of days and practise with the guys,” Nadal said. “I enjoyed it [and] I felt in terms of tennis better than one week ago.
“But in the past few days, I started to feel a little bit [of an] abdominal [injury], especially when I was serving. I checked with the doctor and he said that he recommended to not play, because if I continued the abdominal may break and could become a major thing. And I really don’t want that.”
He then added: “It’s been a difficult year for me in terms of injuries, and so I’d prefer to avoid doing anything drastic.
“It wouldn’t have been good for me nor anyone to return to the court knowing that I wouldn’t be able to play my best.”
Djokovic therefore will reclaim the world No 1 ranking next week which he last held
in 2016 and he will be the first player to start the season outside the top 20 and end up top of the rankings since Marat Safin in 2000.
Nadal was due to meet Fernando Verdasco who then faced ‘Lucky Loser’ Malek Jaziri who promptly took full advantage of his good fortune to oust the Spaniard 7-6(5) 1-6 6-3 with a powerful display of aggressive tennis.
Federer meanwhile, was expected to fight off a challenge from Milos Raonic who granted him a walk-over thanks to a right elbow injury.
“I’m very sorry to have to withdraw from my match this evening at the Paris Masters,” the Canadian wrote on Twitter. “This is not how I wanted to end my season, but I will be healthy soon to get in shape and be ready for the new year. Thank you all for your continued support this year. Hope to see you soon,”Raonic wrote on Twitter.
The Swiss legend will next face Fabio Fognini, who also benefited from a walkover from his Hungarian opponent Marton Fucsovics’ withdrawal.
There was some full action which included the sixth seed Dominic Thiem overcome the partisan crowd to eliminate Gilles Simon 6-4 6-2.
Thiem is still in the running for a place at the O2 as are Kei Nishikori and John Isner who also proceeded to the third round.
Nishikori took out Adrian Mannarino of France 7-5 6-4 while Isner battled past Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan 6-3 6-7(2) 7-6(1).
For a chance to qualify for the Finals, Nishikori needs to reach the semifinals while Isner needs to reach the final itself
Defending champion Jack Sock saw off French veteran Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-3 leaving Paris without a Frenchman in the draw.
Alexander Zverev, Kevin Anderson and Grigor Dimitrov all secured their berths in Thursday’s round of 16.