Nadal Battles Past Wawrinka For Paris QF Bid
Rafael Nadal extended his mastery against Stan Wawrinka on Thursday at the Rolex Paris Masters, beating the Swiss 6-4, 6-4 to make his seventh ATP Masters 1000 Paris quarter-final.
Nadal now leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 19-3 and has won their past six meetings, dating back to the 2015 Nitto ATP Finals. The Spaniard also clinched his 11th 50-win season with the straight-sets victory.
“My serve worked well and the volley, too. I have been going to the net a couple of times, serve and volley. I think I have been focussed and tried to hold the serve during the whole time,” said Nadal, who won all 10 of his net points.
“I think my game worked well. On the return today, [it] was a little bit difficult. I think I didn’t return as well as I was doing previous days… But it’s true that Stan always has a good serve and [is] difficult to read. So [it was] an important victory for me, honestly, against a tough opponent again.”
The World No. 2 broke the 16th-seeded Wawrinka in the third game and escaped danger on his own serve by erasing a break point in the eighth game. Both players gave away little in the third-round clash that saw a combined 37 winners to 32 unforced errors.
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But Wawrinka, who would have qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals had he won the tournament, didn’t see another break point the rest of the way and was broken during a loose service game at 4-4 in the second set. Nadal also won all 10 of his net points.
The 33-year-old Spaniard is looking to finish as year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings for the fifth time. He will guarantee that milestone if he wins three more matches and wins the Paris Masters 1000 for the first time, which would be a record-extending 36th Masters 1000 crown.
Next, Nadal will meet France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who saved two match points to beat German Jan-Lennard Struff 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(6). Struff led 6/4 in the third-set tie-break, but Tsonga kept his nerve while hitting a crosscourt volley to make it 5/6.
Struff then netted a backhand and an overhead to give Tsonga a match point, which he seized to reach his seventh quarter-final of the season and first Masters 1000 quarter-final since 2016 Paris.
“It was a very tight match. It could have been the opposite scenario, it was only a few points in a row. I’m very satisfied with my match. He played very well,” Tsonga said.
The 2008 champion is going for his third title of the season but trails Nadal 4-9 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
“These matches make you improve. When you play the best, it’s always beneficial and it’s not important whether you win or lose. When you play Rafa in the first round, it’s a problem. If you play Rafa in the quarter-finals, it’s normal,” Tsonga said. “Of course, it’s better for me to meet Rafa in quarter-finals after having played a few matches rather than during the first round.”