In their battle for the year-end No. 1 ranking, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal moved into the third round at the Paris Masters on Wednesday.
The 4-time tournament champion Djokovic fought off an illness and a tough Corentin Moutet effort with a 7-6(2), 6-4 victory over the Frenchman. Moutet had two set points in the first with Djokovic serving 3-5.
“I didn’t feel health-wise 100% in the last couple of days, but it is what it is. It’s not the first time I didn’t play at a really high level. Lots of errors, especially in the first set,” Djokovic said. “First time against a young player who is talented, very quick. Returns a lot of balls back that usually other guys wouldn’t get, he gets it. And he was pumped, and I respect his fighting spirit.”
Next for Novak will be Kyle Edmund who eliminated Diego Schwartzman.
“I understand that I need to play better and feel better to have a chance to go far in this tournament and, as a result of that, to have a chance to still be in the battle for No. 1,” Djokovic said. “But, again, it doesn’t depend only on me. It depends on him. But my focus is on me.”
Nadal, who would clinch No. 1 with a title this week, inched closer to that by easing past fellow lefty Adrian Mannarino 7-5, 6-4. The win was Rafa’s first at the tournament level since his US Open crown.
“I know how dangerous Adrian is in this court. The court here is fast, the bounce is low, so I think is a perfect court for him,” Nadal said. “So I went on court knowing it [was] going to be very tough one. I needed to play well, and I think I did. My serve worked very well during the whole match. I think I played at the right level.
“Not easy to come back on the Tour after a while without being on the Tour. And playing in this surface… and against a very dangerous opponent, in the first round for me, second for him. So very happy with the victory.”
Three players dropped out of the ATP Finals hunt. Roberto Bautista Agut fell to Alex De Minaur, Grigor Dimitrov upended David Goffin and Denis Shapovalov beat Fabio Fognini.
And with Matteo Berrettini falling to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the late match, Alexander Zverev has qualified and Berrettini will take the final spot unless Gael Monfils, Stan Wawrinka or Alex De Minaur win the title. Then the eight spot will go to one of them.
Also, Dominic Thiem edged Milos Raonic 7-6(5), 5-7, 6-4, Stefanos Tsitsipas topped Taylor Fritz 7-6(3), 6-3 and Christian Garin chopped down John Isner in two breakers.
On Thursday, Thiem will get Dimitrov and Wawrinka will meet Nadal. Rafa has won 18 of their 21 meetings.
THURSDAY PARIS INDOORS SCHEDULE
Court Central Starts At 11:00 Am
R16 (Q) Jeremy Chardy v Cristian Garin
R16 Grigor Dimitrov v 5 Dominic Thiem
Not Before 3:00 Pm
R16 1 Novak Djokovic v Kyle Edmund
Not Before 5:00 Pm
R16 Jan-Lennard Struff v (WC) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Not Before 7:30 Pm
R16 16 Stan Wawrinka v 2 Rafael Nadal
Not Before 8:30 Pm
R16 13 Gael Monfils v Radu Albot
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