All On The Line As Felix Begins Paris Campaign
Djokovic eyes year-end FedEx ATP No. 1 Ranking
It could be make or break for Felix Auger-Aliassime’s Nitto ATP Finals chances this week at the Rolex Paris Masters.
The 21-year-old sits 12th in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin – 11th in Rafael Nadal’s absence – and remains in contention for the 14-21 November season finale at the Pala Alpitour with a deep run. A loss to Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager on Tuesday in a first-time ATP Head2Head meeting would end his Turin hopes.
The ninth seed has compiled a 35-22 record this season, including two finals at the Murray River Open in Melbourne and Stuttgart, and reached his maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open. He found success in doubles at Paris-Bercy last year when he teamed with Hubert Hurkacz for the title over Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares.
Since his defeat to eventual champion Medvedev in New York, the Canadian has compiled a 2-3 record. He is attempting to make up ground in Paris, following a costly opening-round defeat to Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Indian Wells, but has a confidence-boosting win to his name over fellow Nitto ATP Finals hope Cameron Norrie in Vienna last week.
Five-time champion Novak Djokovic will play his first match since falling to Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final when he takes on Marton Fucsovics in the second round. The top seed holds a 3-0 ATP Head2Head record against the Hungarian, including a win in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon this year, en route to his 20th Grand Slam singles triumph.
Djokovic has made clear his intentions of a record seventh year-end FedEx ATP No. 1 finish, which would break the tie he holds with Pete Sampras. His only challenger, Medvedev, must reach at least the quarter-finals in Paris to keep the battle alive, while a sixth Paris title for Djokovic would seal top spot for 2021.
“I have had plenty of success in Paris-Bercy over the years, so that gives me enough reason to believe that I can do well, and I can go far in the tournament,” Djokovic said. “But having said that, the lack of match play could be dangerous, so I have to really make sure that I start off my first match very well with a good intensity and build my form as that match passes on and hopefully get a win and get myself more comfortable on this court and just getting that match play in.”
World No. 40 Fucsovics landed a second win from five ATP Head2Head meetings against Fabio Fognini in a third-set tie-break in the opening round. The 29-year-old remains within reach of his best year-end FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 36, which he achieved three years ago.
Casper Ruud currently holds down seventh spot in the FedEx Race To Turin and could book his berth with a strong showing in Paris. The five-time titlist this season is just 90 points ahead of eighth-placed Jannik Sinner and begins his campaign against Alexander Bublik, a narrow winner over Daniel Evans. Ruud, who could book his Turin ticket with a run to the final in Paris, has won both prior ATP Head2Head encounters with Bublik.
#NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz arrives in Paris after reaching his first ATP 500 semi-final in Vienna last week. The 18-year-old beat Andy Murray and Matteo Berrettini back-to-back before he fell to eventual champion Alexander Zverev.
The World No. 35 faces Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert for the first time in the opening round. Alcaraz was among the first four players to qualify for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan after he reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open, a run which included a win over World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas.