After three days of early round action, the top players finally hit the courts at the Paris Indoors, the final stop on the ATP’s regular season.
The day is highlighted by the appearance of all Top 5 players – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro – on Court Central.
In the opener, red hot Djokovic, who is coming off his three-set title win over Federer in Basel final, takes a 2-0 advantage against Argentina’s Juan Monaco, a winner today over Jeremy Chardy.
To follow in the match of the day, del Potro meets three-time BNP Paris champ Marat Safin in what could very well be the Russians final match of his career. Safin has said that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2009 season, and that end could come Wednesday.
“The closer the end is, the tougher it gets,” Safin said Monday. “The second part of the year was really heavy. I didn’t want to leave the house, fly somewhere and be out of my home for three, four weeks. Picking up the bags, going to the airport, staying in traffic, passport control, waiting for the bags again, it was getting really heavy.”
Nadal is on next against his countryman Nicolas Almagro. Nadal, who’s 4-0 against Nico, was Paris finalist two years, and the lefty remains alive for a year-end No. 1 finish.
“This tournament is always difficult, and this kind of surface is the most difficult of the year for me,” said Nadal. “But I always try my best to still improve and to play better and better. This year, I lost a little bit the rhythm in the middle of the season, because I had the injuries. But [it’s] tough to play after being injured. When I came back, I broke (sic) the abdominal, so it was a difficult second half of the year. But I’m going try to finish as good as possible.”
In final day match on center, French qualifier David Guez plays his countryman No. 15 Gael Monfils.
In the evening, Federer attempts to win his 60th match of the season when he takes on Frenchman Julien Benneteau. Federer’s most recent memory of Paris was his historic French Open triumph in June.
“It’s going to be a very tough match, but I’m really motivated,” said Benneteau, who has a 0-2 record against Federer. “Playing against Federer on Center Court in Bercy is an extraordinary experience, and I really wanted to do that. I will try not to think too much about him. I will rather think about my own game.”
The final match of the day puts Murray, who leads the ATP with six titles this year, against American James Blake. This is the third meeting between the two (tied 1-1). Murray is coming off a title run in Valencia.
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