PARIS, November 2, 2016
Eight of the top 10 seeds of the BNP Parisbas Masters were in second round action on Wednesday, headlined by world number one Novak Djokovic who defeated Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-3, 6-4. The 29-year-old Serbian saved the only break point he faced, capitalizing on two of his own to advance in one hour and 20 minutes.
“It was great to start off the way I did today. Not an easy opponent because he serves and volleys, and I found the conditions quite quick,” said Djokovic. “I think I managed to find the right rhythm, right pace from the very beginning… capitalized on the opportunities when they were presented. I was quite pleased with my serve. I think I got a lot of free points there. It was quite a good performance.”
Djokovic will next take on Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. “I think Grigor is obviously a very talented player. He’s been on the tour for some years now and he’s more experienced. He has a good work ethic and is always trying to improve his game,” said the world No. 1. “He can hurt anybody with his big serve and forehand. I’m sure he’s going to be very motivated to play well tomorrow.”
Second seed Andy Murray battled Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-7, 7-5. The 29-year-old Scot, who has won the past six meetings against the Spanish veteran since Verdasco’s lone win came in the fourth round at the 2009 Australian Open, sent down 10 aces, winning 74 per cent of his first service points to prevail in two hours and 28 minutes.
Next up for Murray will be Lucas Pouille. The 13th favourite from France fought past Feliciano López from Spain, rallying 6-7, 6-3, 6-4. Pouille fired 21 aces, winning 89 per cent of his first service points to secure victory two hours and one minute.
Kei Nishikori set a third round clash with Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The fifth seed from Japan beat Serbian Viktor Troicki 6-2, 7-5 in 74 minutes to claim his 300th match win on the ATP World Tour.
“I think it’s a great number,” said Nishikori. “I think this year has been pretty good. I have been winning a lot of matches and playing a lot of tournaments. Every year I feel like I’m getting strong, so I’m happy with performance right now.”
Tsonga gained his second victory over Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinos within two weeks, winning 6-3, 6-4. The 31-year-old from Le Mans defeated Ramos in the quarterfinals of the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna and celebrated sixth win in as many tour meetings with the Barcelona native.
Cilic Sets Key London Clash With Goffin
There are two spots remaining to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The tournament’s number eight David Goffin from Belgium beat Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 7-6, 6-3, whereas the current No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Race to London, Dominic Thiem, was knocked out by US-American Jack Sock 6-2, 6-4. Ninth seed Marin Cilic, who holds the 8th and final spot. overcame big-serving fellow-Croatian Ivo Karlovic, winning 7-6, 6-2 in one hour and 33 minutes.
Cilic and Goffin will now face in the third round. The 25-year-old Belgian must beat Cilic and win the title at the AccorHotels Arena this week to clinch one of the two remaining spots in the elite eight-player field at the season finale.
“David has been playing very well this season. We just played in Tokyo and it was a tough match,” said Cilic. “It’s a battle now between me, him, Berdych and Tsonga. I’m just hoping to continue with my good tennis and find a good way to play him this time.” Goffin leads 3-0 in head-to head records.