Gael Monfils can secure the eighth and last spot at the upcoming ATP Finals in London if he can beat rising star Denis Shapovalov to reach the Rolex Paris Masters semi-finals on Friday night.
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It’s a rematch of their thrilling five-set U.S. Open showdown from a couple of months ago as Gael Monfils attempts to claim the last ticket to the ATP Finals when he squares off against Denis Shapovalov in the Rolex Paris Masters on Friday night.
Behind a bunch of players in the Race to London when the week started, Monfils is the last man standing as he tries to snatch the eighth and final place at the O2 Arena. The equation is simple – beat Shapovalov, and Monfils is in. However, if he loses, Matteo Berrettini will remain in eighth spot and make his debut at the ATP Finals. A two-time runner-up at the Paris Masters in 2008 and 2009, Monfils began his campaign with a straight sets dispatch of compatriot Benoit Paire, but needed to come from a set down to overcome the tenacious Radu Albot on Thursday night, firing 12 aces as he finished strongly in a 4-6 6-4 6-1 victory.
After some injury-riddled 2017 and 2018 seasons, Monfils is back playing the kind of tennis that saw him rise to No. 6 in the world during his career-best 2016 season, where he made the U.S. Open semi-finals and won the ATP 500 Citi Open in Washington D.C., qualifying for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. A second appearance at the ATP Finals would certainly be deserved, with Monfils compiling a 37-17 record in 2019, winning one of the biggest titles of his career at the ATP 500 event in Rotterdam, beating Daniil Medvedev and Stan Wawrinka back-to-back, making semi-finals in Sofia, Dubai, Canada Masters and Vienna and reaching the quarter-finals in Indian Wells and the U.S. Open, along with a fourth round finish at Roland Garros.
As mentioned, qualification to the ATP Finals didn’t look likely at the start of the week or when he lost his opening match in Antwerp two weeks ago to teenager Jannik Sinner, but Monfils now finds himself one win away from a prestigious ticket to London – can he handle the pressure on Friday night?
Denis Shapovalov (PA Images)
Denis Shapovalov is playing some of his best and most consistent tennis of his young career at the moment, backing up his maiden ATP title breakthrough in Stockholm by reaching his fourth Masters 1000 quarter-final, benefitting from a Gilles Simon retirement in the opening round before two impressive victories, taking out 11th seed Fabio Fognini 3-6 6-3 6-3 and sixth seed Alexander Zverev 6-2 5-7 6-2, snapping a two-match and four-set losing run against the German at Masters 1000 level in the process.
Shapovalov first made headlines two years ago in Montreal when he beat Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal to surge into his maiden Masters 1000 semi-final, before reaching the fourth round of the U.S. Open and ending his breakout season in the top 50. Shapovalov would go on to reach the Madrid Masters semi-finals the following season and generally did a solid job of establishing himself on the ATP World Tour, reaching more semi-finals in Delray Beach and Tokyo, quarter-finals in Eastbourne and St. Petersburg and making the fourth round in Miami and Rome Masters as he cracked the top 20. The 20-year-old would make another Masters 1000 semi-final in Miami earlier this season, but he didn’t win back-to-back matches again until August, with his ranking dropping outside the top 30 as a result. However, courtesy of his title triumph in Stockholm, the Canadian’s ranking is back up to No. 28 – and courtesy of his win over Zverev, he’s currently at a live ranking of No. 20, which would be a career-high if he stays there.
This will be the second career meeting between the pair, and if it’s anything like their first, we will be in for a treat. Monfils ended up prevailing in five sets at the U.S. Open earlier this year, but Shapovalov fought back on multiple occasions and maybe with a bit more experience, would have been able to ride that momentum to victory. The Canadian is already looked like a more assured player, but this is the biggest match of Monfils’ season – and with the crowd support, I’m going to back him home in a match that could easily go right down to the wire again.
Monfils vs Shapovalov ATP Paris live streaming, preview and tips – Two-time runner-up Monfils on the cusp of securing ATP Finals spot
Gael Monfils can secure the eighth and last spot at the upcoming ATP Finals in London if he can beat…
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