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Nadal returns to action at Paris Masters, Djokovic eyes seventh title

Looking less than 100 percent physically and now a new father, there was speculation that Rafael Nadal would end his season following a U.S. Open fourth-round loss to Frances Tiafoe. Instead, Nadal is back to the grind for the Paris Masters and the Nitto ATP Finals–two events he has never won.

“Before arriving in Turin (for the year-end championship), you have to play matches in Paris–where conditions are similar,” coach Carlos Moya said last week.”Rafa is competitive wherever he is, and we go with hope.”

The simple fact that Nadal is well rested should inspire some confidence, but the results–at least by his lofty standards–have not been great in Bercy. He has not even reached the title match since finishing runner-up to David Nalbandian in his debut appearance back in 2007. At the same time, though, Nadal has never lost prior to the quarterfinals.

A semifinal showdown with Novak Djokovic is potentially in the cards after the two all-time greats landed in the same half of the draw this past weekend. Nadal may have to get past Denis Shapovalov in the third round and either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Borna Coric in the quarters, while Djokovic is on a collision course with Jannik Sinner for the last 16 but otherwise seems to have a favorable path.

The 35-year-old Serb has won the Paris Masters a record six times, including in each of his two most recent trips (2019, 2021).

“I feel great in this tournament,” Djokovic assured. said in his pre-tournament press conference. “(I’ve had) lots of success. (It) always helps to come into the tournament confident and with some good memories– good emotions on the court. (The) past few times that I played here, I won both tournaments…. Hopefully I can continue that run.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.