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Richard Evans Reports For 10sBalls • Tennis From The ATP Rolex Paris Masters

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in action during his round of 16 match against John Isner of USA at the Rolex Paris Masters tennis tournament in Paris, France, 02 November 2017. EPA-EFE/CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON



When Grigor Dimitrov led 5-2 in the final set and then served for the match at 5-3, John Isner’s chances of reaching the final of the Rolex Paris Masters for the second consecutive year looked bleak. But, in a remarkable turnaround that had much to do with Isner’s ability to rely on that massive serve and Dimitrov’s frailty in tight situations, the American clawed his way back into another tie-break and then dominated it 7-3 to pull off an unlikely victory 7-6, 5-7, 7-6.

Jack Sock of USA in action during his round of 16 match against France’s Lucas Pouille at the Rolex Paris Masters tennis tournament in Paris, France, 02 November 2017. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

With Jack Sock getting the better of Lucas Pouille 7-6, 6-3 it turned out to be a good evening for Americans in Paris. As they are in opposite sides of the draw, in theory they could meet in the final. But that is a long shot. Isner plays Juan Martin del Potro in the quarters while Sock will have to deal with the left handed Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco who is playing some of his best tennis of the year. Verdasco scored a surprisingly easy 6-4, 6-4 win over No 5 seed Dominic Thiem who looks as if he has played too much tennis this year.

It was a bitter sweet day for Belgium’s David Goffin who lost to the 35-year-old Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-3, 6-3 but nevertheless achieved his goal of becoming the first Belgian ever to qualify for the ATP World Finals. That became a certainty with Pouille’s loss – the Frenchman being one of only three players who could have claimed the last two spots in London.

Now it is up to del Potro to see if he can catch Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta who is still hanging on to a qualifying position. However, if the Argentine can gain a semi-final place here it will give him enough points to knock out Carreno Busta.

The Isner-Dimitrov duel provided great entertainment for the large crowd at the renovated and newly named Accor Hotels Arena – and not just because of Isner’s exciting comeback. The contrast in style was good to watch, especially towards the end of the first set when the Bulgarian seemed to have the upper hand. Twice he got as far as break point on Isner’s serve – quite an achievement in itself but, as many an opponent will tell you, it is not just Isner’s first serve that makes life so difficult. On the first of his break points, Grigor ‘only’ had to deal with a second serve. It did not turn out well. Isner put so much kick on the delivery that Dimitrov found himself fending off a ball at shoulder height and never had much chance of getting in a proper return.

Isner established a 6-3 lead in the first set tie break but a double fault did his cause no good. That enabled Dimitrov to reach set point twice, at 8-7 and 10-9. A big serve took care of the first and, although he got the ball over Isner’s head the lob landed a foot long. Lobbing a man of 6ft 10” is not easy!

So Dimitrov, who has enjoyed one of his best years on the tour, winning titles in Brisbane, Sofia and Cincinnati, will feel frustrated at failing to close out a match that he appeared to have under control at 5-2 in the third.

Rafael Nadal of Spain in action during his round of 16 match against Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas at the Rolex Paris Masters tennis tournament in Paris, France, 02 November 2017. EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON

Rafa Nadal advanced although he could not prevent Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay from taking a close fought second set that was embellished by Cuevas producing a perfect tweener that sailed past a surprised Nadal for a clean winner. Nadal had no illusions about the danger his opponent presented as Cuevas belongs to that small club of players who have defeated Nadal on clay – having done so in Rio de Janeiro last year.

Of greater concern to the Spaniard is the fact that he played the match with strapping on his knee. He insisted that he would be on court against Serbian newcomer Filip Krajinovic on Friday but admitted that “you never know what is going to happen.”

Obviously he will not want to jeopardize his chances of being fit for the ATP World Finals but, as he considers Paris to be “my most important city” – referring to his amazing successes across town at Roland Garros — he will be loath to pull out, especially when he has such a good chance of claiming his 7th title of the year.

Editors Note: Richard Evans was a collaborator with Gene Scott On the launch of TENNIS WEEK (May 10,1974).

Richard’s column was called “THE ROVING EYE.”

Richard has written more books on tennis than anyone else alive.

“The Roving Eye” is very special • it’s a bit about Richard’s point of view on many subjects including many of his life’s adventures and experiences.

You can buy your own copy of Richard Evans’ book on Amazon by clicking on the link below:



Photo by Alejandro Gonzalez for 10sBalls.com


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