Rafael Nadal continues his quest for a first Rolex Paris Masters title and the year-end No. 1 ranking when he takes on Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals on Friday night.
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On a 14-match winning streak, Rafael Nadal is three more victories away from securing the year-end No. 1 ranking as he prepares to face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Rolex Paris Masters quarter-finals on Friday.
Although the Paris Masters is one of just two Masters 1000 titles he hasn’t won in his illustrious career, Nadal has advanced to at least the quarter-finals every time he’s played the tournament, and the Spaniard maintained that record on Thursday as he defeated Stan Wawrinka 6-4 6-4. Nadal saved both break points he faced and won all 10 points he played at the net to register his sixth consecutive victory over Wawrinka, all of which have come in straight sets.
“My serve worked well and the volley, too. I have been going to the net a couple of times, serve and volley. I think I have been focussed and tried to hold the serve during the whole time,” said Nadal.
“I think my game worked well. On the return today, [it] was a little bit difficult. I think I didn’t return as well as I was doing previous days… But it’s true that Stan always has a good serve and [is] difficult to read. So [it was] an important victory for me, honestly, against a tough opponent again.”
Despite missing the last month or so, Nadal arrives at the Paris Masters in his best physical condition in years and having won 30 of his last 31 matches, compiling a current 50-6 record for the season that has yielded two major titles at Roland Garros and U.S. Open, along with two more Masters 1000 crowns in Canada and Rome. Nadal was also a runner-up at the Australian Open to Novak Djokovic and has bounced back strongly after a knee injury disrupted tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.
2020 is shaping up as a potentially historic year for Nadal, who will set his sights on equalling and potentially breaking Roger Federer’s Grand Slam record, while there’s a very high chance he will be starting it as the World No. 1. No matter what happens over the next few days, Nadal is guaranteed to return to World No. 1 on Monday, and as mentioned, should he win the title he would secure the year-end top spot. If Nadal doesn’t win the Paris Masters title, he would still have the advantage heading into the ATP Finals as he’s not defending any points, while Djokovic finished runner-up last year. But right now, it’s one match at a time as the old cliche goes, and next up for Nadal is a man who has troubled him at various stages in his career.
Jo Wilfried Tsonga (PA Images)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2008 Paris Masters champion and 2011 runner-up, has defeated three very solid opponents to reach his sixth quarter-final at the tournament, beginning his campaign with a tough three-set win over Andrey Rublev before claiming his 45th top 10 scalp by conquering Matteo Berrettini in straight sets – potentially ending the Italian’s ATP Finals dream if Gael Monfils beats Denis Shapovalov in the quarter-finals. Tsonga then came up against the hard-hitting Jan-Lennard Struff, recovering from a set down and saving two match points at 4-6 in the deciding set tiebreak before emerging triumphant by a 2-6 6-4 7-6(6) scoreline.
“It was a very tight match. It could have been the opposite scenario, it was only a few points in a row. I’m very satisfied with my match. He played very well,” Tsonga said.
A former World No. 5 and Australian Open runner-up, Tsonga enjoyed the bulk of his career success between 2008 and 2014, reaching multiple Grand Slam semi-finals and quarter-finals and winning two ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Paris (2008) and Canada (2014), beating Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Grigor Dimitrov and Federer on the bounce to win the latter. Tsonga would go on to make the French Open semi-finals in 2015, reach four more major quarter-finals over the next two years and win four ATP titles in Rotterdam, Marseille, Lyon and Antwerp in 2017, but he was restricted to just 12 matches last year after undergoing knee surgery, which resulted in his ranking plummeting to outside the world’s top 250.
However, it didn’t take long for Tsonga to make it back into the top 100, coming into Paris at No. 35 in the world after winning his 17th and 18th career titles in Montpellier and Metz, reaching semi-finals in Brisbane and Marrakech, the quarter-finals in Rotterdam and Lyon and the third round of Wimbledon, while he also won the Cassis Open Provence Challenger – and courtesy of his current run in Paris, he’s set to break back into the top 30.
Nadal leads their head-to-head 9-4 and has won three of their last four meetings, but they’ve only played once since 2015 – and that came this year at Wimbledon, which Nadal won in three easy sets. Nadal also won their 2009 Paris Masters quarter-final in straight sets, and in his current form and after watching him dispatch Wawrinka, you can’t go past the Spaniard again. Tsonga’s best chance to beat Nadal is in these conditions, but he’s already played three tough matches this week and could be a bit fatigued. He’ll have to play basically the perfect match, and with so much on the line for Nadal this week, I don’t see the Spaniard slipping up here.
Nadal vs Tsonga ATP Paris live streaming, preview and tips – Nadal targets first Paris Masters semi-final since 2013
Rafael Nadal continues his quest for a first Rolex Paris Masters title and the year-end No. 1 ranking when he…
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