NADAL WITHDRAWS FROM ATP ROLEX PARIS MASTERS, DJOKOVIC BACK TO NO. 1 BY RICHARD EVANS

Written by: on 31st October 2018
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Rolex Paris Masters 2018 Tennis Tournament
NADAL WITHDRAWS FROM ATP ROLEX PARIS MASTERS, DJOKOVIC BACK TO NO. 1 BY RICHARD EVANS

epa07133346 Rafael Nadal of Spain holds a press conference to announce his withdrawal from the tournament at the Rolex Paris Masters tennis tournament in Paris, France, 31 0ctober 2018. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON  |
Rafael Nadal of Spain holds a press conference to announce his withdrawal from the tournament at the Rolex Paris Masters tennis tournament in Paris, France, 31 0ctober 2018.  EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

 

 

Djokovic Moves up to No 1 from Richard Evans, Paris

 

It was a strange day at the Rolex Paris Masters – one of those days when something that didn’t happen made something else happen. Rafa Nadal didn’t play so Novak Djokovic returned to No. 1 in the world.

 

Novak Djokovic of Serbia in action during his second round match against Joao Sousa of Portugal at the Rolex Paris Masters tennis tournament in Paris, France, 30 October 2018. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

That’s what the ATP computer will say on Monday and, although things could shift again at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals in London, the very fact that Djokovic has recovered the top spot is right up there as one of the great stories of the year. The Serb, having struggled with injury and a wandering mind, had slumped to No 22 in the spring and the talk was more of a fading career than a resurrection.

 

Imaginations would have needed to be stretched to incredulity to think of Novak winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open at that stage but sport – and its great champions – have a way of making fools of the prophets. Quite apart from his improving physical condition, Djokovic got his mind back and, not co-incidentally, he got his old pal and coach Marian Vajda back too. Super star helpers had passed through the Serbian camp, as well as an obscure guru from Spain, but no one knows Novak like Vajda and the results tell their own story.

 

Nadal’s problem is a muscle strain which hurts when he serves. “I was checking with the doctor and the doctor says that it is recommended not to play because if I continue the abdominal maybe can break and can be a major thing, and I really don’t want that.”

 

So there must be a question mark over Nadal’s participation in London now although he really wants to play in the ATP Finals which is just about the only major event he has never won. If he does play and aggravates the injury, it could open a convenient back door for him to slide out of the Saudi Arabian exhibition which he is scheduled to play against Djokovic later in the month.

 

I hope that is not used as the excuse. Both Nadal and Djokovic have been tip-toeing around the issue here in Paris and neither are doing themselves any favors. Both have said they signed their contracts a year ago and need more information before making a decision of whether or not to play. The information is now crystal clear. Saudi Arabia, after numerous attempts to come up with farcical false stories have now admitted Jamal Khashoggi was killed .

 

At this particular moment in history, when an attack on a free press is an attack on democracy itself, no one who carries the fame and adulation of Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic should be seen to be shrugging off the perpetration of an appalling crime by a sovereign government. For the sake of journalists worldwide and their own reputations, they should cancel their contracts, at whatever cost, and set an example.

 

Back at the ranch, or the Omnipalais at Bercy to be precise, Jack Sock put at least a temporary halt on his ranking free fall by remembering how to win a singles match again. Looking a little more like the player who won the title here last year, Sock demolished the big French hope Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-3. Gasquet has been playing well but Sock’s power hitting never really allowed him to get out of the blocks.

 

John Isner kept his hopes of making the ATP Finals alive with another of those third set tie break victories over Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin as did Kei Nishikori who beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

 

But Nadal was not the only player who failed to make the court. Milos Raonic suffered yet another injury – this time to his elbow – and scratched before he was due to play Roger Federer while the Hungarian Marton Fucsovics was not fit enough to meet Fabio Fognini. The Italian will now come up against Federer in the third round while Nishikori will play Kevin Anderson who, having just qualified for London, was confident enough to come out the right end of a 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 battle with Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili.

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