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Tsonga Earns First Masters 1000 Win Since 2017

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2019

Tsonga Earns First Masters 1000 Win Since 2017

Paire to face Medvedev in the second round

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga leaned on the home crowd and some big hitting to earn his first ATP Masters 1000 win in more than two years on Monday at the Rolex Paris Masters. The 34-year-old Frenchman beat VTB Kremlin Cup champion Andrey Rublev of Russia 4-6, 7-5, 6-4 and will next meet 10th seed Matteo Berrettini of Italy.

I’m delighted to have won today. Everything was not perfect, obviously, but the most important thing is to have won. In the last two sets, I played good tennis,” Tsonga said.

The 23-year-old Berrettini is currently in eighth place in the ATP Race To London, which ends Sunday, and is looking to qualify for the first time at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 10-17 November at The O2 in London.

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Tsonga, a wild-card recipient at his home Masters 1000 event, broke Rublev in the 11th game of the second set with some aggressive returning. The Frenchman increasingly ran around Rublev’s second serve in the final two sets to smash forehands and immediately put Rublev on defence.

“During the second set, I was closer to the line. The aim was to outpace him. And I wanted to be very aggressive… to put a lot of pressure on him,” Tsonga said. “I managed to be more aggressive in my game. So it was quite good.”

The 2008 champion slugged 47 winners, including 23 from his forehand wing, and served out the first-rounder. Tsonga, who missed more than seven months last year because of left knee surgery, last won at the Masters 1000 level in May 2017 at the Mutua Madrid Open.

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Frenchman Jeremy Chardy set a second-round date with fourth seed Daniil Medvedev by beating American Sam Querrey 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 in a battle of qualifiers. Chardy was out-aced (15 to 22) but earned three breaks to Querrey’s one. Medvedev will try to push his ATP Masters 1000 winning streak to 12 after winning back-to-back titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai.

Benoit Paire set an all-French showdown with 13th seed Gael Monfils. Paire beat Damir Dzumhur of Bosnia-Herzegovina 7-5, 6-4.

Top Doubles Seeds Advance
Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who have already guaranteed themselves the year-end No. 1 ATP Doubles Team Ranking, continued their career-best season on Monday with a 7-5, 6-4 victory against Nikola Metic and Franko Skugor in the first round of the Rolex Paris Masters.

The Colombians have never advanced past the Round of 16 at the season’s final ATP Masters 1000 event. But they will have a chance to do so against fellow Nitto ATP Finals qualifiers Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury or Robin Haase/Wesley Koolhof.

Hubert Hurkacz and Jan-Lennard Struff sprung an upset against two-time Nitto ATP Finals champions Henri Kontinen and John Peers 6-4, 7-6(10). Marcus Daniell and Philipp Oswald also pulled off a surprise, eliminating sixth seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus 6-1, 6-7(2), 10-7.

Other winners on the first day of action were fifth seeds Kevin Krawietz/Andreas Mies, Jurgen Melzer/Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Jamie Murray/Neal Skupski.

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Inside The Nadal-Djokovic Practice In Paris That Was 'Years' In The Making

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2019

Inside The Nadal-Djokovic Practice In Paris That Was ‘Years’ In The Making

The top 2 players in the ATP Rankings shared a hit in Paris on Saturday

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have played each other 54 times in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including 26 times with a title on the line. But ahead of the Rolex Paris Masters, the duo practised together in Bercy.

To Nadal, the question was not ‘Why?’, but ‘Why not?’ Carlos Moya, former World No. 1 and one of Nadal’s coaches, organised the session. The rivals went out, and they trained without a second thought about who was standing across the net.

“I am delighted to train with Novak, without any issues,” Nadal told on Saturday during a session with the media. “This is a sport. To look at the practice as some abnormality wouldn’t be right and would be taking our rivalry out of context. I don’t look at sports that way.”

Even though Nadal and Djokovic have contested some of the sport’s most memorable matches against one another, that doesn’t mean they can’t coexist outside of those battles.

“I think that my main rivals have not seen it that way [as abnormal to practise with one another] and that is why in tennis we’re existing in a place where everything feels natural, not awkward,” Nadal said. “We coexist quite normally.”

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Djokovic told the news media on Monday that him and Nadal had not practised with one another in ‘years’, but it was only a positive experience, even knowing that between this week’s ATP Masters 1000 event and the Nitto ATP Finals, they will be fighting for the year-end No. 1 ATP Ranking.

“I enjoyed it, to be honest. It was great. It was a lot of fun. It was very intense and competitive, as you can imagine, obviously, but in a very respectful way,” Djokovic said. “We are rivals but that doesn’t prevent us from being respectful and treating each other in the right way and our teams as well. I have always had that kind of relationship with Rafa. And regardless of which course our careers went to and how tense maybe sometimes [our rivalry is], we always had respect for each other.”

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Djokovic Ready For Battle For Year-End No. 1 With Nadal In Paris

How was the training itself? If nothing else, Djokovic admitted it was different. They are used to playing with thousands of fans cheering loudly around them, with plenty at stake deep in a tournament. While it was important, this was only training, something they have not done together often.

“It was actually very unusual,” Djokovic said. “It was strange because when I see him across the net, that means I’m playing him probably [in the] semi-finals or finals of a big event, but this time it was a practice session. But nevertheless, the intensity was like a match.”

The year-end No. 1 spot is still up for grabs going into the final stretch of 2019. Novak Djokovic is currently the top-ranked player, but World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who holds a 1,280-point lead over the Serbian in the ATP Race To London, will reclaim the No. 1 spot on 4 November regardless of this week’s results in Paris.

The 33-year-old Spaniard can clinch year-end World No. 1 for the fifth time by capturing his first title at this event. Three-time champion Djokovic is seeking a record-tying sixth year-end No. 1 finish, which would bring him even with Pete Sampras.

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Tuesday Preview & Schedule: Khachanov Begins Paris Title Defence

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2019

Tuesday Preview & Schedule: Khachanov Begins Paris Title Defence

Zverev, Medvedev in action on Day 2

Karen Khachanov finished last year with a flourish by stunning World No. 1 Novak Djokovic for his first ATP Masters 1000 crown at the Rolex Paris Masters. The Russian begins his quest for a successful title defence on Tuesday against Jan-Lennard Struff as he looks to keep his hopes alive for a maiden appearance at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals.

Khachanov, currently No. 16 in the ATP Race to London with 1,830 points, must take the title in order to have a chance to appear at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. He defeated Struff in their lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting this June on the grass courts of Halle. Although Khachanov hasn’t reached an ATP Tour final this year, he’s enjoyed plenty of success in the City of Lights and his powerful game is well-suited for the fast courts at the AccorHotels Arena.

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Another London hopeful, sixth seed Alexander Zverev, starts his week against veteran Spaniard Fernando Verdasco. The German is seventh in the Race (2,855) and will clinch a chance to defend his title in London by reaching the final in Paris. Although Verdasco leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 2-1, they haven’t faced off in more than two years. The Spaniard is making his 16th consecutive appearance at this event.

#NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur is also still alive in his bid for a debut appearance at The O2, but has to win his first Masters 1000 crown to stay in contention. He kicks off his campaign against Serbian Laslo Djere. De Minaur has won nine of his past 12 matches, including a runner-up finish last week in Basel (l. to Federer) and his third ATP Tour crown of the season last month in Zhuhai (d. Mannarino).

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Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev looks to continue his winning ways against French qualifier Jeremy Chardy. The pair are tied 1-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. Medvedev has reached the final of his past six ATP Tour events and arrives on a nine-match winning streak that includes titles at the Rolex Shanghai Masters (d. Zverev) and St. Petersburg Open (d. Coric). The Russian is aiming to become the first player to complete the Cincinnati-Shanghai-Paris triple.

Other notable matches include #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov taking on home favourite Gilles Simon and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov squaring off against Ugo Humbert. The 21-year-old Humbert has clinched his place at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan from 5-9 November.

ORDER OF PLAY – TUESDAY 29 October 2019
COURT CENTRAL start 11:00 am

Dusan Lajovic (SRB) vs [LL] Corentin Moutet (FRA)
[8] Karen Khachanov (RUS) vs Jan-Lennard Struff (GER)
Gilles Simon (FRA) vs Denis Shapovalov (CAN)
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs [WC] Ugo Humbert (FRA)

Not Before 7:30 pm
[4] Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs [Q] Jeremy Chardy (FRA)
[5] Alexander Zverev (GER) vs Fernando Verdasco (ESP)

Court 1 start 11:00 am
Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs Taylor Fritz (USA)
Alex de Minaur (AUS) vs Laslo Djere (SRB)
Kyle Edmund (GBR) vs [Q] Ricardas Berankis (LTU)
Radu Albot (MDA) vs [LL] Andreas Seppi (ITA)
[7] Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) / Nicolas Mahut (FRA) vs [WC] Adrian Mannarino (FRA) / Gilles Simon (FRA)

Click here to view the rest of Tuesday’s schedule

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Sinner's Rapid Rise From Watching To Playing In Milan

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2019

Sinner’s Rapid Rise From Watching To Playing In Milan

Italian ready for Next Gen ATP Finals debut

Nearly 12 months ago, Jannik Sinner was in the stands watching the Next Gen ATP Finals. He was in Milan to compete in the Red Bull Next Gen Open, which runs alongside the tournament, and wanted to see “how the players like Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe are playing, especially in the important points.”

This year, he’ll experience it firsthand.

The 18-year-old’s breakout season continues in Milan via the wild card reserved for an Italian player. But Sinner’s results this year prove that he’ll blend right in when he begins his quest for the title. His recent highlights include his first ATP Tour semi-final in Antwerp and becoming the youngest player currently inside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings.

“I think I’ve played a very good season and am making good results, so I’m happy to be part of the best eight players for the Next Gen ATP Finals,” Sinner said. “It means a lot for me to be able to play on home soil in Milan. Hopefully I can play here again in the future.

“I’m perhaps a bit surprised because the beginning of the season was not so good. My goal wasn’t so much on the results, but just trying to improve my game. I think I’m mentally strong this year and am just trying to keep pushing on that part.”

What the modest Sinner doesn’t reveal is that his “not so good” start to the season included becoming the youngest Italian to win an ATP Challenger Tour title, prevailing in front of a home crowd this February in Bergamo. Two months later, he picked up his first ATP Tour main draw win in Budapest.

Read More: Sinner’s Stunner: Teenager Reflects On Bergamo Title

Sinner continued to draw attention in his first ATP Masters 1000 event at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. He saved a match point to defeat American Steve Johnson, then hit plenty of shots for the highlight reel in a competitive loss to fellow #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas. Sinner joked before the match that he had an advantage because the Greek didn’t know who he was, but it’s safe to say that’s no longer the case.

“Being on the centre court in Rome was a very special feeling, especially to have the whole crowd cheering for you,” Sinner said. “My parents were there for the match. There was obviously some tension in the beginning, but I always believed in myself.

“Playing against Tsitsipas, I tried to understand his level compared to where I was. That was probably the most important part of the tournament for me. It was a bit strange having so many people around me, but I enjoyed this. I still have so much to learn on and off the court, so I’m happy to be in these big events.”

Sinner’s speedy climb up the ATP Rankings has been on his own terms. He first picked up a racquet at age three, but played sparingly as competitive skiing and football served as his main childhood passions. But at age 10, his father brought him to the courts once more and he took to the sport.

Three years later, Sinner committed to tennis and moved away to train at the academy of world-renowned coach Riccardo Piatti. From the moment he arrived, the coaches at the academy knew they were witnessing something special.

“I remember there were many coaches watching on my first day there and they were all excited to see me play. They were very sure about what they were doing and always tried to help me on court, so this made me feel more sure about my decision to go there,” Sinner said. “It wasn’t easy to leave home, but I was happy I could live in a kind of family where the father is my coach, Riccardo. It was like a friendship and everything went smoothly.”

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It was Piatti who supported Sinner’s decision to largely eschew junior tournaments from a young age. The learning curve was steep as the baby-faced teenager faced off against men who were much bigger and stronger, but he quickly adapted. Less than 18 months after turning his attention to pro events, Sinner found himself competing on the ATP Tour.

“This decision to play at a high level was very important for me,” Sinner said. “My team helped me get some wild cards. You can get into the rhythm of a match more easily at the junior level, but it’s tough to play for one whole match or one whole tournament at the pro level. Even playing many ATP Tour events this year will help me.”

Sinner’s long-term focus is largely due to his unwavering self-belief. Behind the shy personality and modest assessment of his season is a confidence that he can create headlines on the ATP Tour for years to come. It’s an asset which will serve him well in Milan.

“I’ve never been in doubt about being a good tennis player. You have ups and downs, which is normal in our sport, but you have to be on top of your mentality,” Sinner said. “I’m a very nice guy on and off the court. That’s the most important part for me. But I want my opponents to feel under pressure before the match even starts. I hope they think that they’ll have to be on top of their game for the whole match.”

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Djokovic Ready For Battle For Year-End No. 1 With Nadal In Paris

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2019

Djokovic Ready For Battle For Year-End No. 1 With Nadal In Paris

Serbian looking to finish the year on top for the sixth time

Novak Djokovic isn’t focussed on the battle for year-end No. 1 between himself and Rafael Nadal as he looks to return to the Rolex Paris Masters final this week.

But the Serbian is certainly aware of the task at hand and what it will take for him to finish at the top of the ATP Rankings for a second consecutive year and sixth time overall (2018, 2015, 2014, 2012, 2011).

Djokovic needs to finish this week’s ATP Masters 1000 event less than 1,500 ATP Race To London points behind Nadal to have a chance at the year-end top spot. Nadal currently leads Djokovic by 1,280 Race points.

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He’s in a much better position, but I hope I can do well in this tournament. I’ve historically played really well indoors in Paris and also [Nitto ATP Finals in] London, but it doesn’t depend on me. So I cannot really focus too much on what he is doing or other players. I’ll try to get the most out of my performances and see where it takes me,” Djokovic said.

These kind of [year-end No. 1] calculations are never really great for the mentality of a player, and they take away vital energy that you need to use for your performance, so I prefer not really think about it too much.”

Djokovic is competing on the ATP Tour for the first time since his Rolex Shanghai Masters quarter-final loss to fellow Nitto ATP Finals qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece. Djokovic, the all-time wins leader in Paris with 32, is going for a record-extending fifth title in Bercy.

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He and the second-seeded Nadal could play in the final, which would be their third FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting of the season. Djokovic won in the Australian Open final, but Nadal avenged that loss by winning the Internazionali BNL d’Italia title match in Rome.

Physically I’m feeling well. I haven’t had any left shoulder pain or any major concerns physically in the last three, four weeks, basically. So my preparation has been going well,” Djokovic said. “I’m just hoping I can kick off this tournament in the best possible way.”

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Ram/Salisbury Secure First Team Nitto ATP Finals Berth

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2019

Ram/Salisbury Secure First Team Nitto ATP Finals Berth

Dubai & Vienna champs are the seventh team to qualify

Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury have clinched their spot at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November, for the first time as a team.

The American/British team have won two ATP Tour titles — at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. McLachlan/Struff) and last week’s Erste Bank Open in Vienna (d. Kubot/Melo) — from five finals in 2019. They finished as runners-up at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp (l. to Daniell/Koolhof), the Fever-Tree Championships in London (l. to Lopez/A. Murray) and also at the recent European Open in Antwerp (l. to Krawietz/Mies).

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Ram, 35, previously competed at the Nitto ATP Finals with Raven Klaasen in 2016 and 2017. On their team debut, Ram and Klaasen reached the final (l. to Kontinen/Peers).

With Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau also qualifying on Monday, there is only one spot remaining in the doubles field at The O2. The ATP Doubles Race To London comes to an end this week at the Rolex Paris Masters.

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Rojer/Tecau To Make Fourth Team Appearance At Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2019

Rojer/Tecau To Make Fourth Team Appearance At Nitto ATP Finals

Dutch/Romanian duo looking to reclaim the title they won in 2015

Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau will compete at The O2 in London for the fourth time after qualifying for the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals, to be held from 10-17 November.

Buy Your London Tickets

The 2015 champions and year-end No. 1s also played together at the season finale in 2014 and ’17. Individually, both Rojer and Tecau will be making their sixth appearances in London.

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This year, the Dutch/Romanian team won their second ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Schwartzman/Thiem) in May and last week lifted their 20th team crown at the Swiss Indoors Basel (d. Fritz/Opelka) on Sunday. They reached two ATP 500-level finals at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Chardy/Kontinen) and at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. (d. Klaasen/Venus).

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Cilic, Albot Among Early Paris Winners

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2019

Cilic, Albot Among Early Paris Winners

Croatian to face Wawrinka in second round

Croatia’s Marin Cilic booked his place in the Rolex Paris Masters second round on Monday with a 7-6(5), 6-4 victory over Hubert Hurkacz of Poland in one hour and 38 minutes. Cilic, who reached his first ATP Tour semi-final of the season two weeks ago at the VTB Kremlin Cup (l. to Rublev), will next play No. 16 seed Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland in the second round.

Cilic had an exceptional day on serve, particularly in the second set, when 63 per cent of his first serves went unreturned. For the match, he won 86 per cent of first-serve points.

First-Serve Placement & StatisticsHawkeye

Cilic directed his forehand to Hurkacz’s forehand 44 per cent of the time, almost as much as he placed it to the Pole’s backhand (46%). But that could potentially be explained by how the players utilised their backhands.

Cilic was content to keep his backhand crosscourt (65%) compared to down the line (12%), while Hurkacz went down the line to Cilic’s forehand 36 per cent of the time, triple the Croat’s rate. That left Hurkacz’s forehand wing open, leading to Cilic going crosscourt with his forehand as much as he did.

Forehand & Backhand PlacementHawkeye

Former World No. 3 Milos Raonic earned his first victory since the first round of the Coupe Rogers in August, ousting qualifier Cameron Norrie 6-3, 6-2. The Canadian struck 14 aces and lost only one first-serve point (28/29) en route to a 63-minute triumph.

Raonic will next face fifth seed Dominic Thiem, against whom he holds a 2-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead. Earlier this year, Thiem defeated Raonic in a two-hour, 32-minute battle in the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open.

Borna Coric defeated Fernando Verdasco in straight sets at the Rolex Paris Masters four years ago. But Verdasco got his revenge on Monday, eliminating the Croat 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 after one hour and 59 minutes. The Spanish lefty, who has now won at least one match at this ATP Masters 1000 event in 10 of his past 12 appearances, will next play sixth seed Alexander Zverev, who is battling for one of the two remaining spots at the Nitto ATP Finals.

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Moldova’s Radu Albot avenged his recent loss to Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Rolex Shanghai Masters with a 6-3, 6-2 win over 72 minutes against his doubles partner. He now challenges Italian lucky loser Andreas Seppi, who came into the main draw after 2011 champion Roger Federer, last week’s Swiss Indoors Basel titlist, pulled out.

Chile’s Cristian Garin won his Paris debut with a 6-4, 6-3 victory against Uruguayan Pablo Cuevas to earn a second-round clash against No. 15 seed John Isner, and German Jan-Lennard Struff eliminated Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 to set a second-round match against defending champion Karen Khachanov, the eighth seed.

Hawkeye data and visuals courtesy ATP Media

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WTA Finals: Elina Svitolina beats Karolina Pliskova after marathon tie-break

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2019

Defending champion Elina Svitolina got the better of world number two Karolina Pliskova in an 18-minute first set tie-break before sealing a 7-6 (14-12) 6-4 win at the WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

Both players broke each other early in the opening set before the marathon tie-break which the Ukrainian clinched when the Czech’s backhand landed wide.

Svitolina’s break in the seventh game of the second set proved decisive.

It was the world number eight’s seventh successive win in the WTA Finals.

  • Barty and Osaka come through opening matches

Svitolina said: “That was probably one of the longest tie-breaks I have played.

“I was just trying to be ready for her big serves today. I tried to move quickly and react quickly. The slightly slower surface gave me a bit more time.

“It’s a big privilege to return to this event. I still can’t believe I won it last year.”

US Open champion and world number four Bianca Andreescu of Canada takes on Romania’s world number five Simona Halep in Monday’s late match.

The WTA Finals event sees the world’s top eight players compete in two round-robin groups of four, with the winners and runners-up advancing to the semi-finals.

Svitolina is in the Purple Group alongside Pliskova, Halep and Andreescu. The Red Group features Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty, Petra Kvitova and Belinda Bencic.

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Federer Withdraws From Paris

  • Posted: Oct 28, 2019

Federer Withdraws From Paris

Swiss to next compete at Nitto ATP Finals in London

Former champion Roger Federer has withdrawn from this week’s Rolex Paris Masters.

“I am extremely disappointed to have to pull out,” said 2011 titlist Federer. “I want to play as long as possible on the ATP Tour. I’m sorry for my French fans who I’ll see at Roland Garros in 2020.”

The Swiss superstar won a record-extending 10th Swiss Indoors Basel crown (d. de Minaur) on Sunday. Read Final Report & Watch Highlights

Federer, 38, will now prepare to compete alongside Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 10-17 November. There are two singles spots left up for grabs this week.

Italian Andreas Seppi has replaced Federer as a lucky loser in the ATP Masters 1000 main draw.

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