Djokovic Narrowly Avoids Becoming Latest Paris Upset Victim
Novak Djokovic was on the brink of becoming the latest upset victim at the Rolex Paris Masters on Thursday night. Instead, he battled back from a set down to defeat Tallon Griekspoor and advance to his ninth straight quarter-final at the event.
The Serbian won the final eight points of the match to escape with a 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 victory, extending his winning streak to 15 matches and tightening his grip on the No. 1 Pepperstone ATP Ranking. He now leads Carlos Alcaraz — who was upset by Roman Safiullin in his Paris opener — by 670 points in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, which serves as a barometer in the battle for year-end No. 1.
Following the match, Djokovic revealed he was struggling with a stomach issue — though he was full of praise for Griekspoor’s effort.
“I don’t want to take anything away from his performance. He didn’t drop the level,” the Serbian said. “Maybe in the third set a few games he did a bit, but he was playing at a very high level and credit to him for that performance. If he would be the winner tonight, it would be absolutely deserved.
“I started off well but I ran out of steam. I’ve been struggling the last couple of days with my stomach and I just didn’t feel myself at all. I was just trying to hold my serve and get to a tie-break, which happened in the second. I got lucky on a couple of shots there. It could have easily gone his way, but overall I played a good tie-break and I started to feel better in the third. I’m really, really glad to overcome this challenge.”
The result kept Djokovic on course for his record-extending seventh Paris singles title by reaching his 11th quarter-final at the ATP Masters 1000. It’s the Serbian’s 10th quarter-final in 11 events this season, the lone exception a third-round exit in Monte-Carlo.
Griekspoor provided a stern test behind a brilliant serving performance, and stunned the World No. 1 by winning five straight games — including a run of 10 consecutive points — to snatch the opening set from 1-4. Finding joy with his loopy forehand swing, the Dutch No. 1 then created three break points in the second set as he pressed home his advantage.
Djokovic held firm with two big serves to erase break chances at 4-4 and then demonstrated his uncanny ability in tie-breaks with a near-flawless performance to regain control of the centre court showdown. On the season, Djokovic is now 27-5 in tie-breaks according to ATP Infosys Stats, the best record on the ATP Tour.
Griekspoor remained a threat in the final set, breaking for the third time to level the decider at 4-4 before Djokovic snapped back to win the final two games of the match to love.
Next up for Djokovic — the lone top four seed in the quarters — is a meeting with sixth seed Holger Rune or Germany’s Daniel Altmaier. A fourth Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with Rune would give Djokovic a chance to level their series at 2-2; the Dane beat Djokovic in last year’s Paris final and again this season in the Rome quarters.
Griekspoor moved up two places this week to No. 21 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, setting himself up to achieve a career high for the second straight week in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.