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Scouting Report: Djokovic Returns, Medvedev Defends In Paris

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2021

The stars of the ATP Tour are set to compete in the Rolex Paris Masters — the final ATP Masters 1000 event of the season — this week. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and defending champion Daniil Medvedev lead the way. looks at 10 things you should watch in Paris-Bercy.

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1) Djokovic Back In Action: The top seed will compete for the first time since the US Open, where he lost in the final against Medvedev. A victory in that match would have given the Serbian the Grand Slam, having won the first three majors of the year.

Djokovic will be confident knowing he is a five-time Rolex Paris Masters champion, with triumphs in four of his past six appearances at the ATP Masters 1000 event. The 34-year-old, who will open against Fabio Fognini or Marton Fucsovics, is currently tied with Rafael Nadal for the most Masters 1000 titles with 36. He will also play doubles with countryman Filip Krajinovic.

2) Novak Chasing Year-End No. 1 Record: Not only is Djokovic returning to action, but he can make history in his first event back. Novak and Pete Sampras are tied for the most finishes atop the year-end FedEx ATP Rankings with six each. There are three scenarios in which Djokovic can clinch a record-breaking seventh year-end No. 1 finish in Paris. The 34-year-old will do it if he reaches the final, if he advances to the semi-finals and Medvedev does not win the title, or if the Russian does not make the championship match.

3) Huge Week For Race: The FedEx ATP Race To Turin does not end in Paris, but it will be critical with two spots remaining in Turin in both the singles and doubles fields. The singles Race is especially tight, with only 230 points separating seventh-placed Casper Ruud and 11th-placed Cameron Norrie (ninth-placed Nadal is done for the year due to a foot injury).

Ruud and Jannik Sinner currently hold the final two qualifying singles spots. Seventh-placed Kevin Krawietz/Horia Tecau and eighth-placed Jamie Murray-Bruno Soares are trying to shore up their spots in the season finale, to be played at the Pala Alpitour from 14-21 November.

4) Medvedev Defending Champ: Second-seeded Medvedev will try to retain his title in Paris-Bercy one year after lifting the trophy. The Russian still has an outside chance at year-end No. 1, but he must make the final to maintain his hopes.

The 25-year-old, who will play Belarusian Ilya Ivashka or Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round, will try to claim his fourth Masters 1000 title this week. He is still flying high after emerging victorious at the US Open for his maiden major crown.

5) Murray Leads Wild Cards: Former World No. 1 Andy Murray received one of the four wild cards, so the Scot will compete in the Rolex Paris Masters for the first time since 2016. That year, he critically won the title en route to finishing year-end World No. 1. The 34-year-old will face a tough test in the first round against qualifier Jenson Brooksby, who needed more than three hours to eliminate Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena on Sunday. In August, Murray tweeted about the #NextGenATP American: “Jenson Brooksby is the sort of player I love to watch… lots of variety… high tennis IQ… great in defence… His slice and backhand volley are almost identical to Florian Mayer.”

6) French Hopes: The other three wild cards went to Frenchmen: former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet, Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Arthur Rinderknech. There are seven Frenchmen in the main draw, led by 15th seed Gael Monfils. The 35-year-old has found a good level lately, having reached the semi-finals in Metz and the final in Sofia. #NextGenATP Frenchman Hugo Gaston came through qualifying, where he needed three sets to beat Kevin Anderson and Lorenzo Musetti.

7) Tsitsipas Seeks Paris Breakthrough: It has been another strong season for Tsitsipas, who will pursue his second Nitto ATP Finals title in Turin. But first, the Greek star will try to make his mark at the Rolex Paris Masters, where he owns a 2-2 record. Both of his wins came in 2019, when he made the quarter-finals before losing to Djokovic. The third seed will have to navigate a tricky opening match against South African Lloyd Harris or Australian Alex de Minaur.

8) Zverev In Form: Alexander Zverev arrives in Paris as one of the most in-form players on the ATP Tour. The German has won 25 of his past 27 matches dating back to the start of the Tokyo Olympics, where he won the singles gold medal. On Sunday, he battled past Frances Tiafoe for the Vienna title. Now, he will try to go one step further in Paris than he did last year, when he defeated Stan Wawrinka and Nadal in back-to-back matches before falling to Medvedev in the final. First up for the five-time Masters 1000 champion will be Serbian Dusan Lajovic or American Mackenzie McDonald.

9) Americans Charging: Two Americans enjoyed great runs last week: Vienna finalist Frances Tiafoe and St. Petersburg finalist Taylor Fritz. Tiafoe eliminated three Top 20 opponents and Fritz backed up his run to the Indian Wells semi-finals. Both will try to maintain their level at the Rolex Paris Masters. Three Americans also clawed through qualifying: Brooksby, Marcos Giron and Tommy Paul. Giron rallied from 0-5 in the third set against former Top 10 star Gilles Simon in the first round of qualifying. McDonald and #NextGenATP star Sebastian Korda are also in the field.

10) Cabal/Farah Have Momentum: The top seeds, Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, have won nine tour-level titles together this year. But fifth seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah bring momentum to Paris after triumphing at the Erste Bank Open. Other teams to watch include second seeds Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury, Indian Wells champions John Peers and Filip Polasek, and Tsitsipas and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi.

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Djokovic On Chasing Year-End No. 1: ’That’s The Goal’

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2021

Novak Djokovic is making his long-awaited return to action this week at the Rolex Paris Masters, and immediately he has a chance to make history.

In his first tournament since losing in the US Open final against Daniil Medvedvev, the Serbian superstar has an opportunity to clinch his seventh year-end No. 1 finish in the FedEx ATP Rankings, which would break his tie with Pete Sampras for the most year-end No. 1 finishes in history.

There are three scenarios in which Djokovic can clinch the achievement in Paris. The 34-year-old will do it if he reaches the final, if he advances to the semi-finals and Medvedev does not win the title, or if the Russian does not make the championship match.

“The year-end No. 1 is on the line between Medvedev and myself, and I’m in a pretty good position,” Djokovic said. “That’s obviously the goal for the end of the season other than trying to do well in the Davis Cup with the national team. So hopefully I can have a strong finish of the season and clinch that year-end No. 1.”

Djokovic will take confidence knowing he is a five-time Rolex Paris Masters champion. In his past six appearances, the Serbian has lifted the trophy four times, made another final and advanced to the quarter-finals.

“I’m pleased to be back. I have been training really well [the] past couple of weeks. And I have had plenty of success in Paris-Bercy over the years, so that gives me enough reason to believe that I can do well, and I can go far in the tournament,” Djokovic said. “But having said that, the lack of match play could be dangerous, so I have to really make sure that I start off my first match very well with a good intensity and build my form as that match passes on and hopefully get a win and get myself more comfortable on this court and just getting that match play in.”

The 36-time ATP Masters 1000 winner will begin his run against Italian Fabio Fognini (8-0) or Hungarian Marton Fucsovics (3-0). But Djokovic knows that he will not just have to deal with tough opponents. This is his first event since his disappointing defeat at Flushing Meadows, where he fell one victory short of completing the Grand Slam.

“I have learned over the years to deal with losses in such way that I treat them as great opportunities for growth. I feel that the US Open loss in the final has arrived arguably at the worst or at the best time for me, in a way,” Djokovic said. “Of course I’m disappointed that I lost the match, but I feel like I was blessed to experience love from the crowd and support from the stadium that I have never experienced before in my life in New York, and actually not in many places around the world.

“That kind of energy that I received from the crowd from the moment I stepped on the court until I stepped out is a win for life.”

As tough as that defeat was, Djokovic is trying to take the positives from it. Not only did he win the year’s first three majors, but the loss also taught him lessons from which he feels he can get better.

“In a most ideal scenario, I would [have won all] four of them. But knowing I was so close gives me great encouragement for the future, but it also makes me feel humble about my game, about my career,” Djokovic said. “It gives me a kind of reality check where I have to go back to the practice court and really understand what needs to be done so that I could improve.”

Djokovic added that he has learned to deal with losses and grow from them. And he hopes that is the case again on this occasion as he attempts to finish his year on a high in Paris and at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.

“This was not an ordinary loss considering the circumstances,” Djokovic said. “The season was very draining for me and demanding in every aspect, but I have had similar situations before where I was just super tired, but somehow managed to find the strength and finish the year and finish the season strong. Hopefully that will be the case again.”

Did You Know?
While the 2021 year-end FedEx ATP Rankings will continue to potentially include some results from 2019 and 2020 in a player’s rankings breakdown under the “best of” rankings system due to COVID-19, the 2021 year-end No. 1 will be based off 2021 results alone (i.e., the FedEx ATP Race To Turin) and will continue until the end of the Nitto ATP Finals. This will ensure that the No. 1 accolade accurately reflects the world’s best performer of the 2021 calendar season.

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Title No. 20 For Marin! Cilic Wins In St. Petersburg

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2021

Marin Cilic put himself in elite company by winning the St. Petersburg Open on Sunday.

The Croatian, who defeated American Taylor Fritz 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 to lift the trophy, became just the sixth active player to claim 20 tour-level titles. The only other men who have achieved the feat are Roger Federer (103), Rafael Nadal (88), Novak Djokovic (85), Andy Murray 46) and Juan Martin del Potro (22).

The last time Cilic competed in St. Petersburg before this week was in 2011, when he also emerged victorious. This was his fourth title in Russia, having also earned the crown in Moscow twice (2014-15).

Last week, the former World No. 3 fell one win short of triumphing in Moscow. And it appeared after letting slip a set-and-a-break advantage that he might lose another final in Russia.

But Cilic never stopped fighting, and he rallied from a break down in the deciding set to win after two hours and 23 minutes. The 33-year-old hit 12 aces and won 78 per cent of his first-serve points in his victory.

For much of the match, Cilic was the more aggressive player, and that allowed him to control rallies against Fritz. But on the two occasions he led by a break in the second set, the World No. 35 began misfiring with his forehand, allowing the American back into the match.

Fritz stormed ahead in the decider, using his power and depth to maintain the momentum. But he was unable to finish the job. After getting back on serve, Cilic took advantage of a Fritz double fault on break point at 4-4 to move ahead. And this time, the Croatian did not let slip his opportunity, putting away a forehand volley on championship point before leaping into the air with a big fist pump.

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Zverev Downs Tiafoe For Vienna Crown

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2021

Alexander Zverev maintained his dominant form since Wimbledon on Sunday at the Erste Bank Open, overcoming American Frances Tiafoe 7-5, 6-4 to clinch his fifth trophy of the year.

The second seed, who moved past #NextGenATP stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Carlos Alcaraz en route to the final, won 80 per cent (37/46) of his first-serve points and stepped inside the baseline to dictate on his forehand against Tiafoe, securing his victory in one hour and 36 minutes.

“He didn’t let me play the way I wanted to play, tactically he was very good,” Zverev said. “But I am happy with the win and I am happy with my fifth title of the year and I am happy with my first in Vienna, so it was a good day.”


The German now holds a 25-2 record since Wimbledon and has extended his ATP Head2Head series lead against Tiafoe to 6-1. The 24-year-old earned his 300th tour-level career win against Australian Alex de Minaur this week.

“I think the Olympics gave me a lot of confidence and I believe I can compete for any title that I play in,” Zverev added. “I am happy with the form I am in but I have got two more massive weeks ahead of me and I hope I can do well.”

Earlier this season, Zverev triumphed at ATP Masters 1000 events in Madrid and Cincinnati and also won the singles gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Zverev has won all five finals that he has competed in this year. The only other time the World No. 4 won five tour-level crowns in a season was in 2017.

In a lively start, breaks the players exchanged breaks as they tried to find their rhythm from the baseline. Zverev looked to stay close to the baseline and overpower Tiafoe, while the American played with great variety and closed the net effectively to cause the 24-year-old problems.

After Zverev found the breakthrough in the 12th game of the first set to move ahead, he continued to play aggressively. The German hit eight aces in the second set to secure his victory in an entertaining match.

Tiafoe rallied from a set and 2-5 down against Italian Jannik Sinner to book his spot in the championship match but was unable to come back against Zverev. The World No. 49 has earned a career-best 29 tour-level victories this season and was aiming to win his first tour-level trophy since triumphing in Delray Beach in 2018.

“I knew I was capable of a week like this,” Tiafoe said. “It is not easy to beat good player after good player. These guys are so good. To have a week like this and know you can do it and not just beat one top player but three great guys is great.”

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Murray/Soares Clinch St. Petersburg Title

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2021

Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares ended their strong week on Sunday at the St. Petersburg Open by clinching their second tour-level trophy of the season.

The top seeds dropped just one set en route to the title, overcoming Andrey Golubev and Hugo Nys 6-3, 6-4 in the championship match.

With their victory, Murray and Soares have boosted their hopes of qualifying for the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November. They are currently eighth in the FedEx ATP Doubles Team Rankings and in the final qualification spot for the season finale.

“The odds of getting to Turin are getting higher every match we win, so that is good,” Murray said. “I think we have an over 500-point lead on the team behind us. But in Paris if you win the tournament it is 1000 points, so while we are in a good position, we still need to go to Paris and have a good week there.”

Murray and Soares broke three times and closed the net effectively against Golubev and Nys to secure their victory after 81 minutes. It was the first meeting between the teams, with Golubev and Nys competing for just the fourth time together this week.

“I think the conditions here suit my return indoors,” Soares said. “The ball is not moving much and I like these conditions and also we have had a good week, so that also helps. I think we are a dangerous combination overall.”

The British-Brazilian pair has now won 12 tour-level titles as a team. Earlier this season, Murray and Soares triumphed at the Great Ocean Road Open in their first tournament together since Roland Garros in 2019.

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Cabal/Farah Capture Vienna Crown

  • Posted: Oct 31, 2021

Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah produced a dominant performance on Sunday, overcoming Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-4, 6-2 in the Erste Bank Open final to capture their third tour-level title of the season.

The Colombians fell to Ram and Salisbury in Eastbourne and Wimbledon this year, but gained revenge in Vienna, saving all seven break points they faced to secure their victory after 78 minutes and reduce their ATP Head2Head series deficit against the second seeds to 1-3.

“Thank you all of you for being here,” Farah said in the trophy ceremony. “For us it is amazing to play in this atmosphere in a full stadium and to have the crowd back and feel these amazing vibes.”


This week, Cabal and Farah won three consecutive Match Tie-breaks 10-8 as they battled through the field to reach the championship match. The third seeds have earned 19 tour-level titles as a team, also triumphing in Dubai and Barcelona this season.

“The crowd has been amazing, thank you for coming,” Cabal added. “It was our time. It has been a pleasure being here.”

Ram and Salisbury were aiming to clinch their third tour-level title of the season. The American-British tandem captured their maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Toronto, before lifting the US Open trophy. They have fond memories in Vienna, have won the title in 2019.

Both teams have qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held this year at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November, with Cabal and Farah securing their place following their first-round victory in Vienna.

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Golubev/Nys Book Spot In St. Petersburg Final

  • Posted: Oct 30, 2021

Andrey Golubev and Hugo Nys had never won a match as a team before this week, but now they are finalists, moving past Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 2-6, 10-4 on Saturday at the St. Petersburg Open.

The fourth seeds broke three times and hit five aces to advance after 84 minutes. Golubev and Nys are teaming for the fourth time and will face top seeds Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares in the championship match.

Ram/Salisbury Battle Into Vienna Final
Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury’s strong season continued on Saturday as they defeated John Peers and Filip Polasek 3-6, 7-6(2), 10-7 in one hour and 40 minutes to reach the Erste Bank Open final.

The second seeds captured their first ATP Masters 1000 title in Toronto, before triumphing at the US Open. The American-British tandem will face fourth seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the championship match.

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Nakashima Stamps Ticket For Milan

  • Posted: Oct 30, 2021

Brandon Nakashima has become the seventh player to qualify for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held in Milan from 9-13 November.

The American will make his debut at the 21-and-under event, having enjoyed a breakthrough 2021 season by rising from No. 170 in the FedEx ATP Rankings to a career-high of No. 70 this week.

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