Four-time Rolex Paris Masters champion Novak Djokovic will look to even the score against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday when the two meet for the second time this season in the Paris quarter-finals.
The World No. 1 lost to Tsitsipas just three weeks ago in the quarter-finals of the Rolex Shanghai Masters and trails the 21-year-old 1-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. The Greek also beat Djokovic last year at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Toronto, but Djokovic beat Tsitsipas in the Mutua Madrid Open final in May.
“He’s a very good player, he has improved and he’s very professional and trains a lot,” Djokovic said of Tsitsipas. “That reflects positively on his game. He’s one of the best players in the world, so I’m looking forward to that challenge.”
But more than just bragging rights in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry will be on the line. If Djokovic falls to 1-3 against Tsitsipas, his hopes of finishing as the year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings for the sixth time could take a significant hit.
A Djokovic loss in the quarter-finals would mean Rafael Nadal could guarantee his place atop the year-end standings for the fifth time by making the Paris final. But Djokovic, as he has stated throughout the week, isn’t worrying about the battle for year-end No. 1; he’s focussed on the task at hand, and in this case, that will be shaking off his recent loss against Tsitsipas after winning the first set in Shanghai.
“I was a set up and close [in the] second set. I couldn’t finish it off, and the match was turned around,” Djokovic said. “I’m hoping that I can start off the match as well as I did in Shanghai but also keep going to the end.”
Tsitsipas, who will compete in the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time from 10-17 November at The O2 in London, seeks his first ATP Masters 1000 title. The Greek star, who triumphed at last year’s Next Gen ATP Finals, has already made the semi-finals at three Masters 1000 events this year (Madrid, Rome, Shanghai).
The winner of Djokovic-Tsitsipas will meet an unseeded player: 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champ Grigor Dimitrov or two-time ATP Tour titlist Cristian Garin of Chile. Dimitrov and Garin will be meeting for the first time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.
The 23-year-old Garin, who won clay-court titles earlier this year in Houston and Munich, is seeking his first semi-final at this level against the 2017 Cincinnati titlist.
Gael Monfils will try to book a return trip to the Nitto ATP Finals when he meets #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov. Monfils came back to beat Radu Albot on Thursday evening in front of a passionate Paris crowd, and the 33-year-old will surely look to get the crowd engaged early and often against the 20-year-old Shapovalov, who is seeking his second Masters 1000 semi-final of the season (Miami, l. to Federer).
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is looking to continue rolling back the clock at his home Masters 1000 event. The Frenchman, who won this title in 2008, is through to his first Masters 1000 quarter-final since Paris 2016 and will face second seed Rafael Nadal, who has looked sharp in his first two matches.
Nadal, playing in his first ATP Tour event since the Laver Cup in September, won in straight sets against home favourite Adrian Mannarino and Swiss Stan Wawrinka. Regardless of how Djokovic fares, Nadal can clinch his fifth year-end No. 1 finish by winning his first Paris Masters 1000 crown.