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du Tuesday 29 Octobre 2019 at 19h00 au Tuesday 29 Octobre 2019 at 20h30
ROLEX PARIS MASTERS From October 31th to November 8th, 2020
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Timing is everything

It is all very well being very, very good at tennis but to become a serial champion, you need to be very, very good at exactly the right moment. And Novak Djokovic is a master of that.
 
No matter how awful he felt at the start of the week, he had a job to do if he was to keep within touching distance of Rafa Nadal in the race for the end-of-year No.1 ranking. Step by step, day by day he has forced himself to get better until on Friday, he was simply untouchable as he swept into the semi-finals, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-1, 6-2. Even Djokovic was impressed.
 
“I played one of the best matches of the season,” he said. “I managed to really start off well and didn't really allow him too many opportunities to really come back. At the beginning of the second, it was very important for me to get an early break, which I did. And after that, you know, I just, you know, kind of went for a lot of shots and it worked. It was a great match.”
 
Grigor Dimitrov, though, has timed his run into form perfectly. Apart from a slightly nervy patch during the second set against Cristian Garin, he played exceptionally well to reach the last four 6-2, 7-5. Then again, he has been playing exceptionally well all week but he will have to keep that up if he is to get the better of the world No.1 today – he trails their career rivalry with only one win in nine meetings.

 “Grigor has been one of the best talents we had in the sport in the last decade for sure,” Djokovic said. “There's been a lot of comparison with his game and Federer's game. And he managed to play semis of the Grand Slam against me in Wimbledon [in 2014] and got to top 10 and played really well.

“And then he struggled a bit with consistency lately, but since US Open he's playing at a different level, a high level. He always had the game. It's just sometimes it's a matter of things coming together, really, mentally and the right time, I guess. Beating Roger in US Open was a huge confidence booster for him, I'm sure.”

Djokovic never leaves anything to chance and he has been keeping a close eye on Dimitrov’s progress in the past few days – he knows exactly what he is up against toady. On the other hand, there is a certain confidence that comes with the knowledge that you have not lost to someone in six years – and that you are hitting peak form at just the right moment.

“I don't play too bad myself,” Djokovic said, “so it's going to be for sure a good one.


Youth versus experience… it’s a tough call

Denis Shapovalov has been playing lights out for days. Rafa Nadal has been hunkering down and getting the results he needs on his least favourite surface and in a stadium that has not been kind to him in the past.
 
Both men have a goal in mind: Rafa to end the year as the world No.1 (which should be his if he wins this week) and Shapo to claim his career-high ranking (he reached No.17 by reaching the semi-finals and could get to No.15 if he bets Rafa). Now they meet in the Rolex Paris Masters semi-final.
 
For Shapo, the last few weeks have been everything he could have wished for. In August, he added Mikhail Youzhny to his team and, since then, he has been on a roll, winning his first ATP title in Stockholm last month.
 
Youzhny was never a megastar of the tour, a Grand Slam contender or a serial winner of titles, but he squeezed every drop out of his talent. He knew how to work hard, how to make life difficult for the opposition and how to get the result he wanted. Now working with Shapo – who has so, so many outrageous talents – he is showing his 20-year-old charge how to show off his skills and enjoy himself while still knuckling down to get the job done. That takes some doing.
 
“He's definitely helped me a lot, both on the court and mentally,” Shapo said of his new mentor back in September. “First of all, I think he's done a lot of kind of talking to me and telling me what I should be focusing on in the matches, kind of how to operate with myself. It's been really important for me.

“In terms of my game, I think he understands me really well, how I'm trying to play, finish the points. I think as a coach, he's helped me a lot in.

“He's been around these guys. He only retired a year ago. He's played these guys a lot of times. It definitely helps to kind of get a feel for how he felt when he played them. I think he scouts really well. He's done a good job so far. I'm sure it does help that he played against them and he does know them.”

 
Now the new partnership has to find a way past Rafa and with their head-to-head standing at 1-1, Shapo must feel confident. The surface and the surroundings suit him; the surface and the surroundings suit Rafa less so. Yet this is Rafa on a mission. Youth versus experience….it’s too tough to call.

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