Medvedev booed as loss rules him out year-end No. 1 contention
PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic stayed on track for the year-end No. 1 ranking for a record eighth time by beating Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-3, 6-2 in the second round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday.
Djokovic was competing in his first singles match since mid-September when he played for Serbia in the group stage of the Davis Cup.
“At the beginning of the match, it was a bit difficult for me to find the rhythm,” the top-seeded Djokovic said on court, “but at the end of the second set, it was really good.”
Djokovic won five straight games to take the opening set with an ace and lead 2-0 in the second set. The Serbian player only faced one break point that he saved with a forehand cross-court winner at 1-0 in the second set.
A six-time champion at the Paris Masters, Djokovic increased his lead to 5-1 before converting his third match point when Etcheverry netted a backhand.
Djokovic can widen the gap with No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz in the race for the year-end top spot after the Spaniard lost to qualifier Roman Safiullin on Tuesday.
Alcaraz is the only player who can overtake Djokovic after Daniil Medvedev dropped out of contention after he was beaten by Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (2) earlier Wednesday.
Djokovic had racked up 500 more points than Alcaraz this season before the Paris Masters. Djokovic won’t be able to clinch the year-end No. 1 spot in Paris since Alcaraz still gets 10 points for his second-round defeat.
There are 1,000 points for the Paris Masters winner and 1,500 points for a perfect run at the ATP Finals.
Djokovic holds the men’s record with seven year-end No. 1 finishes, one more than Pete Sampras. Women's tennis great Steffi Graf holds the overall record with eight.
“Of course, my greatest motivation is still love for the game. I really like competing. So, as simple as that,” Djokovic had told a news conference on Saturday. “And then, you know, I always have goals, you know, and to win another slam, to be No. 1 again, to finish the year as No. 1. Those are let’s say the big goals.”
Medvedev was booed off the court after remonstrating with the crowd during the match.
The crowd upset Medvedev in the 11th game of the second set, jeering him as he was about to serve after he had thrown his racket. The third-ranked Russian went back to his chair and complained to the referee before talking directly to the spectators in French.
“If there’s one who whistles, I don’t play,” Medvedev told the crowd. “You don’t whistle, I play. So, you shut your mouths.”
From that moment, the crowd overwhelmingly threw its support behind Dimitrov, and Medvedev appeared to make a rude hand gesture toward some spectators as he walked off the court after the loss.
“I play in Bercy much better when there is no crowd at all in attendance,” Medvedev joked afterward, referring to winning the Paris Masters title in 2020 during the pandemic in an empty arena. “That’s the only time I won the tournament.”
Meanwhile, Tommy Paul and Casper Ruud can no longer qualify for the ATP Finals. The 12th-seeded Paul lost to qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp 6-4, 2-6, 6-3, while eighth-seeded Ruud was defeated by Francisco Cerundolo 7-5, 6-4. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, Holger Rune, Hubert Hurkacz and Alex de Minaur stayed in contention for the three remaining spots at the eight-man tournament that will be played in Turin, Italy from Nov. 12-19.
Before the Paris Masters, Djokovic, Alcaraz, Medvedev, Jannik Sinner and Andrey Rublev had already qualified for the ATP Finals.
In a late match that ended at nearly 2:30 a.m. in Paris, fourth-seeded Sinner beat Mackenzie McDonald 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-1. Seventh-seeded Tsitsipas beat Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 7-6 (4), 10th-seeded Zverev outlasted Ugo Humbert 6-4, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (5) and sixth-seeded Rune defeated Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-2.
Hurkacz, seeded 11th, beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 6-2 and 13th-seeded De Minaur rallied past Dusan Lajovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis