Novak Djokovic begins his final push to reclaim the No. 1 ranking Tuesday at the Paris Masters. Djokovic, who has won 12 straight matches and 18 of his last 19, will be in second round action against little-known French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
Coming of an undefeated Asian swing with titles in Beijing and Shanghai, Djokovic still has a shot, albeit a very slim one, to finish the year No. 1, but he’ll have to stay perfect this fall and hope Rafael Nadal falters.
Djokovic’s first opponent, the 22-year-old Hugues, just won his first career ATP match Monday beating countryman Benoit Paire.
Nadal, meanwhile, will have another day of rest. After pulling out of Basel last week, Nadal will open up on Wednesday against the Tursunov-Granollers winner.
Rafa, who’s had so much success at the other Paris event, has never won the indoor version nor the year-end ATP finals event next month.
“The last tournament of the year is important,” said Nadal. “I have never had the chance to play very well in London. In 2010 I played well; the rest I played really bad. I want to try to change that.
“I was always motivated for this last part of the season, but I was not able to apply it well. I hope this year I can change that situation. I hope to play well here and then we’ll see.
“I’m excited to be back in Paris,” he added. “Paris is a very special city for me. Probably the most special city in the world. It’s a great tournament. I haven’t had the chance to be here for different [reasons] for the past four years, so I am very happy and excited to be back.”
Also on Wednesday, Roger Federer will face the Youzhny-Anderson victor. Federer just came off a final in Basel yesterday and with the result should qualify for London.
“I’m a winner type, I don’t take that much confidence from losing matches,” Federer said Sunday after his loss in the Basel final to Del Potro. “I’m happy about the level of play, that it’s getting better, but it’s not in losses where I find my confidence. It’s in wins. I think the four matches previous gave me more than today’s match.”
The final two spots will end up among Stanislas Wawrinka, Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Tomorrow, Gasquet plays Fernando Verdasco while Tsonga takes on Kei Nishikori.
Still alive mathematically for London are Milos Raonic, Tommy Haas, Nicolas Almagro and Youzhny.
In first round play completed earlier today, Marin Cilic made his return to tennis from a doping ban firing 22 aces in a 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Igor Sjisling.
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