June 5, 2023
Auger-Aliassime rallies in Paris;  Nadal stumbles

Auger-Aliassime rallies in Paris; Nadal stumbles

PARIS — Felix Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev qualified for the ATP Finals after Taylor Fritz and Hubert Hurkacz, the other contenders for the two remaining places, lost in the second round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday.

8th-seeded Auger-Aliassime survived qualifier Mikael Ymer 6-7 (6) 6-4 7-6 (6) to next play wildcard entry Gilles Simon, who saw ninth-seeded Fritz at 7: 5, 5 defeated -7, 6-4.

Auger-Aliassime saved 14 of 17 break points and converted four of five to extend his winning streak to 14 games.

Fritz failed to convert three set points on Simon’s serve in the opening set at 5:4. The American also failed to convert any of the three break points he had at 3-2 in the final set. He made 36 unforced errors to 16 for Simon, who is ranked 188 and looking to retire after this tournament.

Teenager Holger Rune stunned 10th-seeded Hurkacz 7-5, 6-1 and faced Rublev, who advanced to the third round on Tuesday.

Before the Paris Masters, Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had already qualified for the eight-bobsleigh tournament in Turin from November 13th to 20th.

Alcaraz, Tsitsipas, Alex De Minaur and Lorenzo Musetti also reached the third round in Paris, while Nadal’s 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1 loss to Tommy Paul raised questions about his fitness in his first singles match since the US Open.

Second seed Nadal made 19 unforced errors to 18 for Paul and dropped serve three times in the final set, looking almost resigned.

“In the end I need days on the tour,” said Nadal. “It’s true I haven’t put in enough days on the tour in the last five months. I’m not even saying competing on a tennis court. I’m saying on the tour. Practicing with the guys. That’s what I do need.”

Next, Paul plays Pablo Carreno Busta, who defeated Denis Shapovalov 7-6(2), 2-6, 6-4.

De Minaur upset fourth-placed Medvedev 6-4 2-6 7-5 to next meet Frances Tiafoe who defeated Jack Draper 6-3 7-5.

De Minaur beat Medvedev for the first time in five encounters.

After recovering from a 0-2 deficit in the final set, De Minaur failed to convert his first two match points at 5-4. He hit a return out on the first match point and made an unforced error on the second.

But the Australian got two more chances when the score was 6-5. Medvedev saved the third match point with a service winner before double faulting on the fourth and angrily throwing his racquet to the ground.

“I’m glad I played a very tactical match,” De Minaur told Tennis Channel. “I was just trying to wait for my right ball and just pull back and support my volley. It’s something I’ve tried to implement a lot more. I don’t do it as often as I’d like, but I do have some decent volleys.”

Medvedev, who won the Paris Masters in 2020 and finished second last year, dropped serve in the opener by topping a smash in the final game. But the Russian player capitalized on unforced errors from De Minaur to break twice in the second set.

Top seeded Alcaraz defeated Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-4 to earn more points in their hunt for the year-end No. 1.

Alcaraz lost a break in game eight but hit a forehand pass on the run to break again and take a 5-4 lead before claiming the opener with a forehand winner.

The Spaniard whipped another forehand winner to take Nishioka’s serve at 4-4 in set number two.

Alcaraz scored 30 winners to seven for the Japanese and will next play Grigor Dimitrov who defeated lucky loser Fabio Fognini 6-0, 7-5.

Fifth-seeded Tsitsipas defeated Daniel Evans 6-3, 6-4 to lead the ATP Tour with 58 wins this year.

Tsitsipas took a 3-0 lead in the first set. He then hit a forehand winner across the court to break Evans in the opening game of the second before converting his first match point with an ace.

“I’m happy with the level of tennis I brought when I had to,” said Tsitsipas. “I moved well, I dictated well. I combined everything, including my defence, transitioning into offense. I served well, I was very calm in important moments and it paid off.”

Musetti defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2 to meet third-placed Ruud.

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