Rip­ples of the Paris Masters

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - GUARDIAN SPORTS - By Ja­cob Akindele

THERE are nine tour­na­ments in the ATP Masters se­ries with each adding 1000 points to the win­ner. This is the tier where play­ers amass rank­ing points, as the 2000-point Grand Slams oc­cur only four times a year. There was a lot at stake in the build-up to this year’s ninth Masters con­tested for at the in­door hard-court of Paris Arena.

At the con­clu­sion, how­ever, the stun­ning up­set vic­tory of Rus­sia’s lanky Khachanov gen­er­ated rip­ples that have raised the Paris show above all oth­ers. In ad­di­tion, it might have her­alded the change of guards be­tween two gen­er­a­tions of play­ers. How he did it. The 16 seeded play­ers drew byes into the sec­ond round. Karen, as world num­ber 18, had to play first round and de­feated the Ser­bian Filip Kra­ji­novic 7/5, 6/2. He did not have to play a full sec­ond round match, as Aus­tralia’s Matthew Eb­den dropped out af­ter los­ing the first set and two games there­after. How­ever, it was a bat­tle royal against John Is­ner in the third round where two points sep­a­rated them in fi­nal set tie-break, end­ing 108. In the quar­ter­fi­nals, he had an easy 6/1, 6/2 vic­tory over one of the heirs-ap­par­ent and fourth seed, Alexan­der Zverev and fol­lowed it with a 6/4, 6/1 semi­fi­nal vic­tory over the sixth seeded Do­minic Thiem, an­other hope­ful in the next gen­er­a­tion.

Af­ter Djokovic de­feated Fed­erer in a thrilling semi­fi­nal, he seemed in­vin­ci­ble and his op­po­nent said, “No­vak is def­i­nitely on a roll. You can feel it. He pro­tects his ser­vice well.”

The ti­tle meant a lot to Djokovic. Al­though al­ready as­sured to move to num­ber one, he was aim­ing to equal Nadal’s haul of 33 Masters level ti­tles and his fourth in Paris. He also hoped to sus­tain his streak of win­ning 22 con­sec­u­tive matches in the sea­son.

In­jured Su­per Ea­gles’ Goal­keeper, Fran­cis Uzoho will miss Nige­ria’s matches against South Africa and Uganda. PHOTO: AFP

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