Monfils withdraws, Djokovic through to last 8

PARIS • Novak Djokovic yesterday eased into the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters after his opponent Gael Monfils withdrew from their last-16 clash because of injury.

The world No. 22 suffered a bad fall during his second-round win over fellow Frenchman Adrian Mannarino the previous day and had hinted at a walkover.

"I'm going to have an X-ray, so we'll see how my body will react," the 35-year-old said.

"When I'm 100 per cent fit, I have not ever defeated Djokovic so far, so now that I'm not 100 per cent fit, my chances are very low. I will see what decision I will make."

Monfils decided not to take the risk against the world No. 1 Serb, who has beaten him on 17 previous occasions.

Djokovic will now go on to face American Taylor Fritz, who stunned British 10th seed Cameron Norrie 6-3, 7-6 (7-3) yesterday. Fritz had upset Russian fifth seed Andrey Rublev in the previous round, while Norrie won Indian Wells last month.

The 34-year-old Serb will be crowned the year-end world No. 1 if he triumphs in Paris and having done so for a record five times, he is the big favourite here.

In the earlier last-16 matches, James Duckworth beat fellow Australian Alexey Popyrin 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 to set up a last-eight clash with Pole Hubert Hurkacz, who defeated German qualifier Dominik Koepfer 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.

There were more injuries the previous day as world No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas retired from his second-round match against Popyrin with what appeared to be a problem with his right arm.

The Greek was trailing 4-2 during the first set when he called the trainer on court before shaking hands with his opponent to signal his inability to continue.

Tsitsipas declined to share details of his physical condition but added that he did not want to aggravate the problem ahead of the ATP Finals from Nov 14-21 in Turin.

"I haven't retired once in my life, and it was something that I had to do today," said the 2019 ATP Finals champion. "I'm trying to be precautious for the next tournament, which is the most important one for me.

"My arm has been - I have had an issue there for quite a while now. It has gotten bigger in the last couple of weeks, so I'm just trying to protect it."

The season-ending ATP Finals will played between the top eight singles players and doubles pairs.

There are just two singles berths in Turin left for grabs, with Casper Ruud, Jannik Sinner, Hurkacz, Norrie and Felix Auger-Aliassime in contention.

Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Rublev and Matteo Berrettini have already qualified.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2021, with the headline 'Monfils withdraws, Djokovic through to last 8'. Subscribe