Britain’s top four players are in action this week at the Rolex Paris Masters in the French capital, the last ATP level 1000 tournament of the season with a lot at stake for players still hoping to qualify for the prestigious ATP Finals scheduled for a week later.
Turin is still in the picture, obviously, but there’s not much else I really could have done. I won Tokyo… Felix has played really, really well, so he deserves it, but I am going to try to steal his spot this week for sure Taylor Fritz
Britain’s No.1 Cameron Norrie, seeded 12 and ranked 13, got the ball rolling at the event with a clinical 6-2 6-4 first-round victory over Miomir Kecmanovic requiring just 69-minutes to roll past the Serbian.
The 27-year-old London resident held his serve throughout and in fact never faced a breakpoint ss he dominated the proceedings, striking 21 winners to his opponents 14 while taking full advantage of the opportunities which came his way and claiming three of the break points from the five he raised.
Norrie took an early lead in the opening set, pouncing on the first break point offered to him after both players held their opening service games.
The Wimbledon semi-finalist then earned himself two more break points at 3-1 and, after failing to convert the first one, he claimed the break in the next after forcing Kecmanovic into an error to then go on and claim the opener with two comfortable holds.
In the second Kecmanovic got off to a better start by holding his first two service games, but the Serbian was still unable to make much of an impression on the Norrie serve and was eventually broken again in the fifth game which proved decisive as both players then held their serves for the rest of the match with Norrie serving out to love.
Norrie’s next opponent will be either Croatia’s Borna Coric or the French qualifier Corentin Moutet in his bid for a third tour-level title of the season.
Andy Murray is due to play the Frenchman Gilles Simon later in the day while Dan Evans and Jack Draper are currently scheduled for Tuesday’s action.
In other early action, Taylor Fritz the 9th seed from the US, overcame a strong challenge from Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in what was a crucial match for the American who is one of four ATP Final hopefuls vying for one of the two places still available in the eight-man Turin draw.
Fritz trailed by a break in the first set and let slip a 2-0 lead in the second as Davidovich Fokina threatened an early upset but the American raised his level at the crucial moment to convert five of 10 break points to bring about a 7-5 6-2 victory after 90-minutes on Court Central.
“[I’m] really happy, he’s a tough person to play against,” Fritz told the media after the match. “He’s got weapons on both sides. He’s extremely quick as well, so there’s nowhere you can really play with a lot of safety. He makes a lot of crazy shots and he’s beaten me the past two times, so definitely good to just get out there, play a solid match, and get through it.”
The win keeps the 25-year-old’s hopes alive for making his debut at this year’s Turin event but needs to reach the quarter finals in Paris where he may have to beat the in-form Canadian Felix Auger Aliassime, another Turin contender, in the third round!
“Right now I’m just focused on kind of playing myself into the tournament,” Fritz responded when asked what he felt were his chances. “I feel like any time this year that I’ve won a couple of matches into a tournament, then I’ve done well. So, I’ll just try to focus on these early rounds.
“Turin is still in the picture, obviously, but there’s not much else I really could have done. I won Tokyo… Felix has played really, really well, so he deserves it, but I am going to try to steal his spot this week for sure.”
In the meantime, Fritz needs to get past his second-round opponent which will be Andy Murray or home favourite Gilles Simon who are playing their opener later in the day.
Other early first round results
Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN) bt Aslan Karatsev 6-3 6-4
John Isner (USA) bt Oscar Otte (Q) (GER) 6-4 7-6(3)
Karen Khachanov bt Sebastian Baez (ARG) 6-1 6-1
Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) bt Quentin Halys (Q) (FRA) 6-3 6-4