Djokovic set for No 1 spot after in­jury forces Nadal to miss Paris Masters

▶ Mean­while, at the Elite Tro­phy in China, Kasatk­ina fumes at play­ing two matches in less than 24 hours

The National - News - - SPORT - THE NA­TIONAL

Rafael Nadal pulled out of the Paris Masters yes­ter­day guar­an­tee­ing Novak Djokovic’s re­turn to world No 1 spot.

Djokovic ar­rived in Paris know­ing that he would re­gain top spot he re­lin­quished two years ago if he bet­tered the Spa­niard’s per­for­mance at the in­door event he has won four times.

The Wim­ble­don and US Open cham­pion be­comes the first player to start the sea­son out­side the top 20 and end up top of the ATP rank­ings since Marat Safin in 2000.

An­nounc­ing his with­drawal from Paris, Nadal said: “My ab­dom­i­nal mus­cles haven’t felt good for the past few days, es­pe­cially on ser­vice, doc­tors rec­om­mended that I didn’t play.”

He has not played since re­tir­ing hurt in the semi-fi­nals of the US Open against Juan Martin del Potro, where he was hit by a knee in­jury.

The prob­lem sidelined him for Spain’s Davis Cup semi-fi­nal against France, and also from tour­na­ments in Bei­jing and Shang­hai.

His with­drawal could put his par­tic­i­pa­tion at the sea­son-end­ing ATP Tour Fi­nals in Lon­don start­ing Novem­ber 11 in doubt.

“It’s been a dif­fi­cult year for me in terms of in­juries, and so I’d pre­fer to avoid do­ing any­thing dras­tic,” Nadal said be­fore his in­tended match against com­pa­triot Fer­nando Ver­dasco. “It wouldn’t have been good for me nor any­one to re­turn to the court know­ing that I wouldn’t be able to play my best.”

Ver­dasco, will play Jack Sock in the next round after the Amer­i­can beat France’s Richard Gas­quet 6-3, 6-3.

Nadal, 32, has en­joyed a suc­cess­ful year, clinch­ing his 17th grand slam ti­tle by win­ning an 11th French Open in June, after tri­umphs in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.

But it is Djokovic who will be at the sum­mit when the lat­est ATP rank­ings ap­pear on Mon­day, ir­re­spec­tive of his fate in the French cap­i­tal this week.

Canada’s Mi­los Raonic has also pulled out of his sec­ond round match against Roger Fed­erer with an el­bow in­jury.

Fed­erer has re­turned to Bercy event after a three-year ab­sence, chas­ing his 100th ca­reer ti­tle after claim­ing the Swiss In­doors crown last week.

Kei Nishikori had a straight­for­ward 7-5, 6-4 vic­tory over Adrian Man­nar­ino and John Is­ner served up 33 aces as he beat Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 6-7, 7-6.

Alexan­der Zverev of Ger­many beat French­man Frances Ti­afoe 6-4, 6-4 while ninth seed Grigor Dim­itrov is also through after beat­ing Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6, 6-4. Mean­while, Top seed Daria Kasatk­ina slammed the tour­na­ment sched­ul­ing at the WTA Elite Tro­phy in China, after los­ing in straight sets to Madi­son Keys.

Kasatk­ina, 21, was beaten with rel­a­tive ease by the 23-year-old Amer­i­can, who took 70 min­utes to seal the win 6-2, 6-4. The Rus­sian, who fin­ished her pre­vi­ous round-robin tie against Wang Qiang at 10pm on Tues­day, looked tired on court and had al­ready crit­i­cised the match timetable, say­ing it “sucks”.

Asked if she stood by the com­ments at her post-match press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day, she took a deep breath and said: “Yeah. I mean if they want me to pull out of the tour­na­ment then they are do­ing a good job, be­cause in less than 24 hours I’ve played two matches.

“The girls [Keys and Wang] are not play­ing to­mor­row, they are play­ing on Fri­day, and I was sup­posed to play two matches in less than 24 hours.

“So there’s noth­ing I can say, noth­ing I can do. I was fight­ing, I mean I did ev­ery­thing I could.

“I gave more than 100 per cent of my abil­i­ties, so this is pro­fes­sional sport.”

Ear­lier, de­fend­ing cham­pion Ju­lia Go­erges suf­fered a bruis­ing de­feat to Anett Kon­taveit.

The fifth seed took a nasty tum­ble mid-way through the match, which she went on to lose 2-6, 6-4, 4-6 after more than two hours.

World No 20 Kon­taveit has now played both her round-robin matches, after los­ing on Tues­day to Bel­gium’s Elise Mertens, who will play Go­erges to­day.

Reuters; AFP

A dis­ap­pointed Rafael Nadal, top, an­nounces his with­drawal from the Paris Masters while, above, Daria Kasatk­ina lost in straight sets to Madi­son Keys

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