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Kubot/Melo Earn Critical Win In FedEx ATP Battle For London

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2020

Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo won a critical match in the FedEx ATP Battle For London on Thursday, defeating Brits Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski 6-2, 1-6, 10-6 to reach the quarter-finals of the Rolex Paris Masters. Less than a week ago, Kubot and Melo beat the same team in the Erste Bank Open final.

“It was a very tough match today. We played in a couple of days two big matches against them: in the final of Vienna and now [in Paris],” Melo said. “It was a very important step towards the [Nitto ATP] Finals for us. I think the level was pretty much the same as the final in Vienna. We knew for them it [would] almost secure their qualification for the Finals [if they won].”

Murray and Skupski began the day in seventh place in the Battle, while Kubot and Melo were in eighth. But with Kubot and Melo’s 79-minute victory, the teams swap positions.

“We’re in such a good position now at No. 7, but we still need to get more points,” Melo said. “That’s why the match was nervous for both teams.”


Murray and Skupski are also vulnerable in the eighth position. If Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin beat Rohan Bopanna and Oliver Marach on Friday, they will move into eighth place. Kubot and Melo only lost one service point in the Match Tie-break to emerge victorious, setting a clash against fifth seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. The Frenchmen beat Marcelo Arevalo and Matwe Middelkoop 6-3, 7-6(4).

“We are glad to play very good in the Match Tie-break. Me and Kubi have a very good record in Match Tie-breaks,” Melo said. “It was great. We are happy. Now we have the French. Maybe it’ll be another nervous match, but for sure it will not be like it was today.”

In other action, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Hubert Hurkacz upset top seeds Robert Farah and Horacio Zeballos 6-3, 3-6, 10-6. 

Two teams also qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals on Thursday, leaving two spots remaining. Wesley Koolhof/Nikola Mektic and John Peers/Michael Venus guaranteed their spots at The O2.

Koolhof and Mektic secured their places by beating Taylor Fritz and Casper Ruud 6-4, 7-6(1) after recovering from 2-5 down in the second set. Peers and Venus ousted Austin Krajicek and Frank Skugor 6-4, 7-6(4) and then second seeds Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares guaranteed their qualifications by eliminating Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 6-4, 7-6(3).

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One Day After Milestone, Nadal Continues Charge For Paris Title

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2020

Rafael Nadal became the fourth player in the Open Era to reach 1,000 tour-level wins on Wednesday. On Thursday, it was back to business for the Spaniard at the Rolex Paris Masters.

Nadal continued his pursuit of a maiden Paris-Bercy title with a 6-1, 7-6(3) third-round victory against Aussie Jordan Thompson. The Spaniard has reached the quarter-finals in all eight of his appearances at this tournament.

The World No. 2 saved a set point on his serve at 5-6 in the second set, winning a grueling 26-shot rally in which his final forehand, which elicited a backhand error from Thompson, clipped the baseline. Nadal surged through the ensuing tie-break to emerge victorious after one hour and 33 minutes.


Should the top seed go on to triumph at the Rolex Paris Masters, he will tie Novak Djokovic’s record of 36 ATP Masters 1000 titles. The lefty star could triumph at this level for the 15th time in the past 16 years.

This was Nadal’s first ATP Head2Head meeting against Thompson, but he wasted no time imposing his will on the match. The World No. 2 broke the Aussie’s serve early when Thompson missed a backhand volley, and Nadal later swooped into the net to carve a backhand drop volley, securing a second break and a commanding lead.

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Thompson did not get discouraged. He played on top of the baseline whenever possible and clawed back Nadal’s aggressive baseline blows to force the Spaniard to finish points. At times, the Aussie even threw in serve and volleys to make sure he wasn’t consistently being pushed around.

The World No. 61’s inability to blow Nadal away proved critical. On Thompson’s set point, he earned control of the rally, and was able to go after an inside-out forehand. But Nadal never panicked and slowly worked his way into control of the point, with Thompson eventually missing a defensive backhand into the net.

Nadal then took charge of the action in the tie-break, completing his win when Thompson missed a forehand into the net. The top seed will next play countryman Pablo Carreno Busta, against whom he has never lost in six previous ATP Head2Head meetings.

The ninth seed ousted qualifier Norbert Gombos 7-5, 6-2 in 80 minutes. Carreno Busta has been one of the hottest players since the ATP Tour restarted in August, reaching his second US Open semi-final and advancing to the Roland Garros quarter-finals.

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Humbert's Best Season Getting Even Better In Paris

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2020

The best season of Ugo Humbert’s career keeps getting better.

The 22-year-old Frenchman battled past former World No. 3 Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 on Thursday to reach his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Rolex Paris Masters. Humbert hit 19 aces and saved three of the four break points he faced to advance after two hours and 24 minutes.

“My game is a bit different. I try to play more aggressive,” Humbert said. “[I’ve played] good matches against great players.”


Humbert earned his second Top 10 victory on Tuesday when he upset reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in a final-set tie-break, and he did not let slip his momentum against Cilic. The World No. 34, who competed in last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals, was cool under pressure to reach his sixth quarter-final of the season. Humbert, who is now 5-1 in deciding sets since Roland Garros, won his first two ATP Tour titles earlier this year.

“I think mentally I’m very strong since one month and I can win matches in three sets,” Humbert said. “I think I’m better in the key moments [than I used to be].”

After Cilic forced a decider with a good effort in the second-set tie-break, he earned a break point in the first game of the third set. Humbert hit his sliding lefty serve out wide and the Croatian was unable to put the return into play. That was the last chance he got.

Milos Raonic
Photo Credit: Cedric Lecocq/FFT
Humbert will be tested again in the last eight against recent Western & Southern Open finalist Milos Raonic. The big-serving Canadian eliminated American qualifier Marcos Giron 7-6(1), 6-2. 

Raonic struck 17 aces en route to his one-hour, 22-minute victory, in which he did not face a break point. The 10th seed’s best previous result at the Rolex Paris Masters came in 2014, when he reached the final (l. to Djokovic). This will be his first ATP Head2Head meeting against Humbert.

“It will be tough, because he’s confident. He serves very well. He had good results since [the] restart of the Tour,” Humbert said. “But now I just would like to recover and I will prepare [for] my match with my coach later.”

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Peers/Venus Clinch Nitto ATP Finals Spot

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2020

John Peers and Michael Venus have become the sixth doubles team to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November.

Peers and Venus beat Austin Krajicek and Franko Skugor 6-4, 7-6(4) on Thursday to reach the Rolex Paris Masters quarter-finals. With Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen’s loss later in the day, Peers and Venus’ spots in London were clinched.

The Australian/New Zealand team has a 22-9 match record on the season, including three ATP Tour titles at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Klaasen/Marach) in February, the Hamburg European Open (d. Dodig/Pavic) in September and the European Open in Antwerp (d. Bopanna/Middelkoop) in October.

Peers and Venus join Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares, Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos and Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic in London.

Peers won the 2016 and 2017 Nitto ATP Finals titles with Henri Kontinen, while Venus finished runner-up with Raven Klaasen at last year’s season finale.

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Medvedev To Face Schwartzman In Paris Quarter-finals

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2020

Daniil Medvedev recorded his 20th match win of the season on Thursday after battling back to beat Alex De Minaur 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 in one hour and 51 minutes at the Rolex Paris Masters.

“It was a really difficult first set, I wasn’t playing bad, but he was also playing well. I was up a break, but didn’t keep the momentum and he came back and was a little bit on fire,” said Medvedev. “The second and third sets were the same scenario, really. I broke early in the second set and I was stronger on my serve to put a lot of pressure on him. I got more confident, knowing that I could put a bit more on my serve and started to come in.”


The third-seeded Russian will now play sixth seed Diego Schwartzman of Argentina in Friday’s quarter-finals. Schwartzman is one victory away from qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November, for the first time.

”I watched his match and Diego played really well,” said Medvedev, of Schwartzman’s 6-1, 6-1 win over Spanish qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. “I think he made five unforced errors and was returning a lot of balls in the court. He served pretty well and it will be a really tough match, because he has been on fire this year. I am looking forward to it.”

Medvedev leads Schwartzman 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series, including a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory at the inaugural ATP Cup in January.

Medvedev broke De Minaur immediately, but couldn’t carry the momentum in the first set. De Minaur broke to love at 2-3 and as Medvedev’s errors mounted, the Australian No. 16 seed clinched the 47-minute opener with another service break in the 12th game.

De Minaur got off to the worst possible start in the second set, when he was broken in the first game. From 30/40 in the first game to 3-1, 30/0, Medvedev won 17 straight points and went on to finish the 29-minute second set with an ace.

Medvedev grew in confidence and his deep groundstrokes reaped dividends in long rallies with breaks of serve at 1-1 and 3-1. Medvedev closed out with an ace, his 27th winner.

The 21-year-old De Minaur, runner-up at the European Open in Antwerp (l. to Humbert), is now 12-9 in the 2020 season.

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Koolhof/Mektic Qualify For First Time To Nitto ATP Finals

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2020

Wesley Koolhof and Nikola Mektic have become the fifth doubles team to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November.

The Dutch/Croatian team secured their places by beating Taylor Fritz and Casper Ruud 6-4, 7-6(1) in the second round at the Rolex Paris Masters on Thursday. Sixth seeds Koolhof and Mektic recovered from 2-5 down in the second set.

They have a 20-11 record on the season, including strong performances at two Grand Slam championships. Koolhof and Mektic lost to Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares 7-5, 6-3 in the US Open final and reached the Roland Garros semi-finals (l. to Krawietz/Mies). They also finished runners up at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille (l. to Mahut/Pospisil).

First-time qualifiers Koolhof and Mektic join Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, Pavic and Soares, Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, and Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos at the season finale in London.

Mektic qualified with Alexander Peya at the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals

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Schwartzman Sweeps Into Paris Quarter-finals, One Step Away From Nitto ATP Finals Qualification

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2020

Diego Schwartzman booked his place in the Rolex Paris Masters quarter-finals on Thursday and now stands one victory away from qualifying for this month’s Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.

Sixth seed Schwartzman extended his run of form by beating Spanish qualifier Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-1, 6-1 in one hour at the indoor ATP Masters 1000 tournament.

“I thought the match was going to be very tough, as we played just 10 days ago,” said Schwartzman. “I did everything well today, serving and moving well. Tomorrow will be a different match against [Daniil] Medvedev or [Alex] De Minaur as they hit very flat and are very solid, they move well and have good defence. I am trying to do everything I can to be in London [at the Nitto ATP Finals].”

The Argentine, who improves to a 25-11 match record on the season that includes three runner-up finishes at ATP Tour events, now faces third-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev or No. 16 seed Alex de Minaur of Australia.

Schwartzman, who is currently No. 9 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, could also qualify for the season finale, to be held at The O2 in London from 15-22 November, should Pablo Carreno Busta lose his third-round match in Paris later today.


Schwartzman came through a 10-minute opening game, then Davidovich Fokina was left frustrated after he was broken to 15 in the next game, with a mis-timed backhand, and after an error-strewn sixth game. Schwartzman, who hit his backhand cleanly throughout, closed out the 34-minute opener when Davidovich Fokina made his ninth backhand error.

Davidovich Fokina’s error count increased when Schwartzman put his foot down by winning the first four games of the second set. Schwartzman also won their two previous meeting in 2020, beating Davidovich Fokina in the Australian Open second round in January and also, recently, in the bett1HULKS Championship quarter-finals in Cologne.

The 28-year-old has reached three finals in 2020, at the Cordoba Open (l. to Garin) in February, his first ATP Masters 1000 title match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia (l. to Djokovic) in September and the bett1HULKS Championship (l. to A. Zverev) last month.

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Wawrinka Resists Paul To Set Rublev Showdown

  • Posted: Nov 05, 2020

Stan Wawrinka had to dig deep in his late-night clash against American Tommy Paul to move into the third round at the Rolex Paris Masters.

The three-time Grand Slam winner found himself having to come back from a set down in a match that lasted almost two and a half hours and clocked in just before midnight in Paris to win 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-2.

“I think I start a little bit hesitating with my game,” said Wawrinka in his post-match press conference. “[It’s the] first time I play against Tommy. He’s a great young player, and I didn’t know exactly what to expect. We never practise together.

“I was a little bit looking too much what he was doing. I think in general my fighting spirit was good. I was trying to stay as much as possible on the match, and I’m happy with the victory.” 

He added, “For me it’s that kind of match that I need right now in the last tournament of the year to build something for next year.”

Contesting the last match on Court Central after Rafael Nadal recorded a milestone 1000th career match win, Wawrinka was in trouble in the opening set as he faced Paul’s speed and athleticism for the first time. He needed an hour and 10 minutes in the second set alone as Paul chased down Wawrinka’s one-handed backhand, saving three set points to force a tie-break. 

With the second set turnaround under his belt, Wawrinka carried the momentum into the third set, where he reeled off the last five games in a row to break twice and seal the victory after two hours and 22 minutes.

Wawrinka booked himself a third-round battle against the in-form Andrey Rublev, who came into Paris on a hot streak after winning back-to-back titles at St. Petersburg Open and Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

“It’s going to be interesting match,” said Wawrinka. “Last time we play, he beat me in Cincinnati. He’s playing so well this year. He’s winning so many matches, so many tournaments. He’s full confidence. He’s one of the best players this year. 

“So it’s going to be interesting to see my level against him. It’s going to be tough match, that’s for sure.”


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