SOIREE
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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Just 24 hours ago, Novak Djokovic looked and sounded awful. Sure enough, he found a way to get the better of Corentin Moutet on Wednesday, but he was clearly not a well man.

Fast forward to Thursday afternoon and the world No.1 was cured. Well, almost. He was not back to his absolute best, but he was sharper, stronger and too good for Kyle Edmund as he made his way into the last eight 7-6, 6-1.

Despite his ranking of No.75, big Kyle, he of the thundering forehand, can threaten anyone on his day. Those days have been few and far between of late but as he reached the third round, he was starting to look more like his old self (he is a former Australian Open semi-finalist, after all).

For 55 minutes, Kyle had Novak working hard. There was hardly a whisker between them until the end of that first set but even when the No.1 tried to pull rank with a succession of set points, Kyle would not let him. And then Novak converted his seventh set point, marched into the second set and it was pretty much all over.

 

“I was feeling energy-wise better and felt more alert, just more strength, more energy, more speed,” Novak said.

“I didn't play so well, I think, from baseline in the first set. I served well. That got me to the tiebreak. I didn't use couple of set points and 6-5. Got to tiebreak. Was playing solid, and that was very close, you know, obviously decided in one or two points.

“Second set was the best set I've played so far in the tournament. Finished off with a winner, finished off with amazing return game. So, of course, the sensation is very positive. And I'm convinced that I'm headed in the right direction so that tomorrow will be even better.”

It had better be: he plays Stefanos Tsitsipas next.

 

Dimitrov calls time on Thiem

Who writes the form book? We all talk about it – “According to the form book, this is the player to watch” – but we have no idea who devised it or where it comes from. And, more often than not, it is of no use whatsoever. That is because tennis is an individual sport and individuals can surprise you.

Coming into Thursday’s showdown, Dominic Thiem was the man in form (we read that in the book). He had won two of his last three tournaments, he was the world No.5 and, brimming with confidence having won his home tournament in Austria last weekend, he was as happy as clam. And then he ran into Grigor Dimitrov.

While Domi had had a great run in the last quarter of the season, Grigor had only won two matches since reaching the US Open semi-finals. True enough, he had beaten Domi twice in their four meetings, but their last encounter was back in 2017 when Grigor was on his way to winning the ATP Tour Finals and before Domi had started reaching the Roland Garros final on a regular basis.

And then Grigor clumped Domi. Absolutely walloped him. Grigor was on fire and there was nothing Domi could do about it. Bulgaria’s favourite tennis player won in 72 spectacular minutes, 6-3, 6-2. When he put away a volley, hit from about an inch above the court surface and played while falling forward onto his knees, everyone knew that this was going to be Grigor’s day.

Can he do it again against Christian Garin, the world No.42 from Chile, and reach the semi-finals? We wait to see.

 

The curse of the commentator

Who would want to be stuck behind the microphone during a tennis match? It may sound glamourous to be commentating on the best players in the world but these players are not what you might call reliable. Oh, yes, they play their matches and they bust a gut to win every one, but they cannot be relied upon to do the expected.

Stefanos Tsitsipas was having a cracking afternoon as he faced Alex de Minaur. It was a rematch of their Next Gen final from last year (Tsitsipas won that one) and he was serving like a dream.

At a set and 4-2 up, the commentators pointed out in hushed tones that De Minaur had only won three points on the Tsitsipas serve so far, and none at all in the second set. At which point, Tsitsipas walloped a forehand that clipped the net and ballooned away beyond the tramlines.

A couple of points later, he sent a backhand long. There was a brief clearing of throats behind the microphones. Ah, that was only the fifth point he had lost of serve, then. And then, when he fluffed another forehand, it was time for a new approach from our dedicated team of experts: De Minaur had a break point. How quickly things can turn around, they explained. They explained it again when De Minaur broke to level the second set tally at four games apiece.

But that was the end of De Minaur’s challenge – Tsitsipas eased into the quarter-finals 6-3, 6-4 in just 69 minutes.

Rafa keeps on rollin’


It was the match of the day, it was – possibly – the match that could decide the end of year ranking: Rafa Nadal against Stan Wawrinka. If you are trying to end the year as the best in the business, you do not want to be facing Stan the Man.
 
In the nicest possible way (obviously), you could call Stan a beast of a player. He is a strong as an ox, his backhand is a thing a beauty (and of terror) and he refuses to give in. And since he came back from knee surgery, he is as good as ever.
 
But Rafa is here for a reason. Not only is it the last Masters 1000 of the year but this is his chance to end the year as the world No.1. If he can keep his nose ahead of Novak Djokovic, that final ranking will be his. Not only that, but this is a title he has never won before… and Rafa not winning in Paris just doesn’t sound right.


 
They had met 21 times before with Rafa winning 18 of those encounters but that did not matter. Rafa looks on the RPM as one of his toughest tournaments: the court is quick, the timing of the event means that he is usually tired and hurt. This would be a tough ask.
 
Stan did what Rafa knew he would: he laid into his backhand (if he was allowed to), he tried to out-muscle the world No.2 and he tried his hardest to pour on the pressure. But it did not work. Rafa won 6-4, 6-4.
 
When Rafa served out wide, Stan had no answer. When Rafa called for the doctor in the second set (he had a bit of a dickie tummy, it seemed), it made no difference. And when Stan was serving at 4-4 in the second set, he wobbled and Rafa pounced. That was that.
 
Now Rafa plays Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a place in the semi-finals and that should set the centre court rocking.

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Groupe 2