Rafael Nadal edged past Stan Wawrinka at the Paris Masters as he extended his dominance in their career rivalry and moved a step closer to the title that has always eluded him.

There was little between the players, both multiple grand slam winners, but Nadal seized on two of the three break chances he created to snatch a 6-4 6-4 victory.

A 19th win in 22 matches against the Swiss took Nadal nearer a 36th Masters 1000 title and the end-of-year number one ranking.

Curiously, though, the Spaniard has never won the indoor event in Paris, despite being a 12-time French Open champion.

The gritty win over Wawrinka sets up a quarter-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who came into this tournament as a wildcard but has been inspired at his home tournament.

French veteran Tsonga has a better record against Nadal than Wawrinka can point to, winning four of their 13 previous meetings.

Nadal said of his win over Wawrinka: "I've been in a match with not many rallies. I played with some mistakes but at the same time I played well with my serve. I was able to be comfortable with my serve.

"On the return, it was difficult today to find opportunities, but the important thing is when I had opportunities I played with the right determination, so I'm very happy. It's an important victory against a very tough opponent."

Assessing the threat posed by Tsonga, who at 34 is a year his senior, US Open champion Nadal told Amazon Prime: "He's a tough one. He's a great player and let's see. I know I'll have to play my best."

Nadal will take over at number one in the rankings next week, whatever happens in Paris, but he will also be assured of top spot come the season's end if he carries off the title.

Novak Djokovic set up a tantalising clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters by seeing off Kyle Edmund.

The world number one, who will lose top spot to Rafael Nadal next week, appeared to be under the weather but ground out a 7-6 (9-7) 6-1 victory.

He growled through a post-match interview, his voice indicating all was not entirely well, but Djokovic still had enough in the tank to see off his British opponent.

Edmund ended a losing streak of eight matches when winning through the first two rounds in Paris, and the former top-20 player pushed Djokovic hard in the opening set.

Neither man registered a break, but the contest became one-sided once Djokovic nudged ahead. He clinched his 50th match win of the season in a hurry, claiming 12 of the final 14 points.

Now Tsitsipas awaits the 16-time grand slam champion, with the 21-year-old Greek having won two of his three previous matches against the all-time great.

The most recent of those meetings came in Shanghai just three weeks ago, when Tsitsipas prevailed in a deciding set.

Tsitsipas set up the fourth match in their rivalry by earning a 6-3 6-4 success against Australian Alex de Minaur.

World number one Ashleigh Barty booked her place in the WTA Finals semi-finals, before Belinda Bencic profited as Naomi Osaka's injury replacement Kiki Bertens also retired.

Barty, a debutant at the season-ending tournament, like Bencic, defeated Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-2 to bounce back from defeat to Bertens in her second Red Group match.

The French Open champion made light work of sixth-ranked Kvitova in Thursday's first encounter.

Needing a victory to guarantee her progress, Barty claimed her first win over the Czech in five attempts in confident fashion.

After a break of serve midway through the opening set saw the Australian edge in front, she wrapped up the second in less than 40 minutes with a third match point.

While Kvitova had already been eliminated ahead of facing Barty, the other match was a straight shoot-out for a last-four place between Bencic and Bertens.

And it was the Swiss, having denied Bertens a place in the original field with her victory in Moscow this month, who advanced due to her opponent's retirement with illness.

Bencic started on the front foot but, after failing to take advantage of her first two break points, fell behind at 3-2.

Yet Bencic responded in impressive fashion to take four successive games and the set, before Bertens, who had taken a medical timeout, stated she could not continue, trailing 7-5 1-0.

Barty and Bencic will learn the identity of their semi-final opponents on Friday, with defending champion Elina Svitolina through in the Purple Group as Simona Halep plays Karolina Pliskova for the opportunity to join her.

Alexander Zverev qualified for the ATP Finals when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Matteo Berrettini, while Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic reached the third round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday.

Zverev will return to London to defend his title next month and Berrettini is in danger of missing out after he was beaten 6-4 6-3 by home favourite Tsonga.

Tsonga's compatriot Gael Monfils remained in contention for the eighth and final place in the season-ending showpiece by winning an all-French encounter with Benoit Paire 6-4 7-6 (7-4).

Roberto Bautista Agut, David Goffin, Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman can no longer qualify for the tournament at the O2 Arena after they bowed out in the French capital on day three.

Djokovic and Nadal, vying to end the year at the top of the rankings, beat Corentin Moutet and Adrian Mannarino respectively in straight sets.

 

 

FOUR STILL STANDING IN HUNT FOR FINAL LONDON SPOT

Berrettini, Monfils, Stan Wawrinka and Alex de Minaur are the remaining contenders to join Zverev in London.

Italian Berrettini's fate is out of his hands following his exit, with Monfils, Wawrinka and De Minaur able to overtake him by winning the title this weekend.

Monfils will meet Radu Albot in the third round, while Wawrinka faces a huge battle with Nadal following a straight-sets win over Marin Cilic and De Minaur dumped out Bautista Agut, setting up a showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

 

NADAL SERVE LAYS FOUNDATION FOR WINNING RETURN

Second seed Nadal did not face a break point in his first main-draw match since winning the US Open.

The 19-time time major champion, who will end the season as world number one if he wins the tournament for the first time, was pleased with his return to action 10 days after marrying long-time girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello

"[I'm very happy with the way that I served." said the Spaniard, who beat Mannarino 7-5 6-4. "I didn't face a break point during the whole match, and against a player who returns well. So that means a lot. Feelings are good. To be back in this court is always special."

 

DJOKOVIC CONTENT TO 'FIND A WAY'

Djokovic knows he slipped below his usual high standards in a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory over lucky loser Moutet but was simply happy to progress given he has not been feeling at his best.

"I didn't feel health-wise 100 per cent in the last couple of days, but it is what it is. It's not the first time I didn't play at a really high level. Lots of errors, especially in the first set," said the Serb, who saved two set points in the opening set and will face Kyle Edmund in the third round.

"First time against a young player who is talented, very quick. Returns a lot of balls back that usually other guys wouldn't get, he gets it. And he was pumped, and I respect his fighting spirit. It was a good match in the end, and I found a way to win, which in [these] circumstances... when you're not feeling your best, is important."

Rafael Nadal will face Stan Wawrinka in the third round of the Paris Masters after grinding out a straight-sets victory over Adrian Mannarino in his first match as a married man.

The 19-time grand slam champion showed signs of rustiness seven weeks after his last main-draw contest - a US Open final victory over Daniil Medvedev.

Wildcard Mannarino put up a good fight in his homeland but was beaten 7-5 6-4 by the second seed.

Nadal did not face a break point and made only 11 unforced errors as he fended off world number 43 Mannarino, hitting 23 winners.

The match came 11 days after Nadal and long-time girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello married in Mallorca.

The Spaniard will end the year at the top of the rankings if he takes the title in the French capital for the first time this weekend and will be well fancied to get past Wawrinka, who has beaten him only three times in 21 meetings.

Nadal had to bide his time in a tight first set against Mannarino, with the first break point not coming until the eighth game and his fellow southpaw fended that off before levelling at 4-4.

The world number two's persistence paid off when Mannarino was broken when serving to stay in a first set that lasted just shy of an hour.

It was a similar story in the second set of a serve-dominated contest, as Nadal had only the only break-point opportunity before Mannarino fired a forehand wide on the first match point to bow out.

Novak Djokovic overcame some magical moments from Corentin Moutet at the Paris Masters to win 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 in his first match since learning he will be relinquishing his world number one ranking.

The Serbian will lose top spot to Rafael Nadal for the first time in 2019 when the latest rankings are released on Monday, regardless of what he does in France.

His battle to win that place back before the end of the year looked like it might take a huge hit when 20-year-old lucky loser Moutet broke and then had two set points in the opener, only for Djokovic to shut the door, break back and clinch the tie-break.

Djokovic then opened up a 4-1 lead in the second set and - although Moutet sealed his second break of the match - was able to wrap up victory in one hour and 47 minutes.

A pedestrian and error-strewn start from Djokovic was epitomised when he meekly found the net to hand Moutet a break and a 4-3 lead.

Moutet had to stave off four break points in the next game and then missed two opportunities to take the first set as Djokovic held and broke back to force a tie-break, which he duly won.

The 32-year-old had already raised his thumb in approval at a forehand winner slapped down the line during that decider, and he had a wry smile when Moutet lobbed him with an audacious tweener in the third game of the second set.

However, that was the only point he won during that service game as the Serbian reeled off four games in a row to take charge, though Moutet did win one break back.

With Djokovic then serving for the match shortly after, Moutet was angry when his opponent was allowed to challenge, successfully, after he had already netted his shot.

He was given the point and the chance to seal the match, which he did at the first time of asking with a fine forehand winner.

Bianca Andreescu is confident she made the right call to retire from her WTA Finals match against Karolina Pliskova as she prepares for a scan on her left knee.

The US Open champion fell to a third consecutive defeat, following a sequence of 17 straight wins, as she quit the Purple Group clash with Pliskova after losing the first set 6-3.

Andreescu had been badly hobbling since early in the match when she "heard a crack" as she returned the ball while up a break.

She initially refused to retire but, speaking afterwards, having confirmed her intention to have an MRI on Thursday, the 19-year-old was content with her decision.

"I stepped weirdly on a return," Andreescu told a post-match press conference. "I heard my knee crack. It kind of went inwards.

"Putting pressure afterwards on it really bothered me. I could barely bend my knee. But I fought with the pain as much as I could. 

"At some point, an athlete has to say, 'Stop', and just listen to their body. That's what I did.

"It's disappointing because this is the last tournament of the year, so you want to go all out. You're playing one of the biggest tournaments of the year, too. It's not easy.

"I've never had a during-match injury happen before - other than spraining my ankle, but that was back in 2015.

"Honestly, I really didn't know what to do. I've fought through pain before, but this was different. It was like very acute.

"But it's the last tournament of the year. I just told myself, 'Push it as much as you can. You're going to have a good break after this.' Maybe I could have pushed it more. I don't know. 

"My team said no. It was good that I stopped. Honestly, I could have kept going. If I did, then I would just be whining on the court. I don't want that. I've done that enough."

Andreescu's defeat to Pliskova saw her hopes of progress end at the season-ending Finals, meaning she can decide whether to face Elina Svitolina, who is already through, to conclude her breakout campaign.

Canadian Andreescu won titles in 2019 at Indian Wells, the Rogers Cup and Flushing Meadows, climbing to number four in the WTA rankings.

Bianca Andreescu failed to shake off a knee injury as she fell to a third straight defeat and departed the WTA Finals, where defending champion Elina Svitolina advanced from the Purple Group.

US Open champion Andreescu, still just 19, had been enjoying an incredible 17-match winning run on the WTA Tour until coming up short in a gripping encounter against Naomi Osaka at the China Open.

The Canadian did not play again until this week's year-end Finals, making a losing return in a narrow defeat to idol Simona Halep.

And any hopes of Andreescu arresting that mini-slump were ended by an issue with her left knee in Shenzhen as she bowed out to world number two Karolina Pliskova.

Andreescu, needing to win to stay in the tournament, broke in the first game of the match but was soon limping, retreating to her seat and calling a medical timeout.

Heavy strapping was applied to the teenager's knee, yet she continued to move uneasily as she sought to continue, seeing Pliskova break back immediately.

Andreescu told Sylvain Bruneau she "heard a crack" and was struggling to bend her knee but insisted she was still capable of beating Pliskova despite the advice of her coach.

"I don't want to stop," she said. "If it was against Simona, then okay. But [Pliskova] misses."

Andreescu showed grit to then hold after saving three break points, but it was only a temporary reprieve as Pliskova sent down a backhand return to seize the advantage in her opponent's next service game.

Pliskova held to take the set 6-3 and Andreescu finally gave in, retiring for a defeat that sees her out of the competition as the Czech faces Halep for a place in the last four.

Halep had wasted an opportunity to book her spot in the semi-finals early on Wednesday when she was beaten 7-5 6-3 by Svitolina.

The Wimbledon champion battled back from 3-0 down early on but then missed the chance to break in front with a poor call on a drop shot, subsequently losing the opener with an error-strewn final service game.

Having been behind throughout the first set, Halep led in the second with a break to love but was quickly pegged back, soon complaining to coach Darren Cahill that she felt unable to disrupt Svitolina's game.

Svitolina, who defeated Sloane Stephens in the 2018 final, preyed on more Halep mistakes to break in front and wrapped up a relatively comfortable triumph in straight sets.

Roger Federer will not take part in the inaugural ATP Cup due to family reasons, meaning Switzerland have been withdrawn from the tournament.

The 20-time grand slam champion announced on Wednesday that he was pulling out of the new 24-team event, which will take place in Australia in January.

"It is with great regret that I am withdrawing from the inaugural ATP Cup event," world number three Federer said in a statement published on the ATP Cup's website.

"When I entered the event last month, it was a really difficult decision because it meant less time at home with the family and a fully intense start to the season.

"After much discussion with both my family and my team about the year ahead, I have decided that the extra two weeks at home will be beneficial for both my family and my tennis.

"It pains me to not be a part of the most exciting new event on the calendar, but this is the right thing to do if I want to continue to play for a longer period of time on the ATP Tour.

"I am sorry for any inconvenience or disappointment my withdrawal may cause for the fans, but I hope you can understand why I made it."

Earlier this week Federer confirmed he would take part in the Paris Masters having won a 10th title at the Swiss Indoors Basel on Sunday.

The 38-year-old's decision means Switzerland have been omitted from the ATP Cup as the nation's second-highest ranked player Henri Laaksonen is way outside the top 18.

Jeremy Chardy upset the in-form Daniil Medvedev in the second round of the ATP Paris Masters and defending champion Karen Khachanov's reign was ended by Jan-Lennard Struff on Tuesday

Medvedev arrived in Paris looking for a third successive title, but the world number four's winning run was halted at nine matches by a shock 4-6 6-2 6-4 defeat to qualifier Chardy.

The 65-ranked Chardy saved nine break points in the final set to reach the third round of the tournament in his homeland for the first time, consigning Russian Medvedev to a first loss since facing Rafael Nadal in the US Open final.

Medvedev's compatriot Khachanov also made an unexpected exit and has no chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals after he went down 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-5 to Struff.

Alexander Zverev, vying for one of the two remaining places in the season-ending tournament in London, accounted for Fernando Verdasco 6-1 6-3 and Radu Albot was the fourth second-round winner on day two.

Corentin Moutet will face world number one Novak Djokovic in the second round after the French lucky loser got past Dusan Lajovic 6-4 1-6 6-3, while Kyle Edmund ended his eight-match losing streak with a 6-4 6-3 victory over Ricardas Berankis.

 

CHARDY ENDS MEDVEDEV PURPLE PATCH

Medvedev had reached six consecutive finals, winning the Shanghai Masters last time out on the back of his St. Petersburg Open triumph.

The 23-year-old was brought back down to earth by the experienced Chardy, who saved 14 of 15 break points – one of which coming when he served for the match.

Medvedev had nine break-point opportunities in the final set and was made to pay for not being able to take his chances.

Chardy had not beaten a top-10 player in his previous 10 attempts but can look forward to facing John Isner or Cristian Garin in the third round.

 

INSPIRED STRUFF DETHRONES KHACHANOV

Khachanov beat Djokovic in the final last year, but was second best in his first match of the tournament this time around.

World number 36 Struff will come up against ATP Finals contender Matteo Berrettini or home wildcard Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last 16 after hitting 43 winners in an impressive performance.

Struff and eighth seed Khachanov served 17 aces a piece, while the Warstein native won 84 per cent of points on his first serve and broke twice in the second set to ensure there will be a new champion this weekend. 

 

ZVEREV BACK IN BUSINESS AFTER BASEL FAILURE

Zverev was beaten by Taylor Fritz in his first match at the Swiss Indoors Basel last week after Medvedev denied him the title in Shanghai.

The world number six, who will be guaranteed the opportunity to defend his ATP Finals title if he reaches the decider this weekend, took just 56 minutes to send Verdasco packing.

Zverev lost just five points on serve – and only one in the second set – and will next face either Denis Shapovalov or Fabio Fognini.

Kiki Bertens admitted she was quite content sitting on the couch before making a stunning start to the WTA Finals when she was called in as a last-minute alternate.

The Dutchwoman replaced Naomi Osaka after the Japanese injured her shoulder and swiftly made an impact in the Red Group, defeating world number one Ashleigh Barty.

It was a fine display from Bertens in Shenzhen as she battled from a set down to triumph 3-6 6-3 6-4, securing a first win over Barty at the sixth attempt. 

"I was okay sitting on the couch," she laughed when asked about her whirlwind day on Tuesday.

"I was really tired. But then yesterday I just hit for five or 10 minutes. I just rested completely. I think today I felt already much better.

"Of course, it's not like after one day that you're completely back in full energy. As the match was continuing, I felt better and better.

"The movement was getting a bit better. I was starting to feel the court. I could play a little bit more aggressive, come to the net."

Naomi Osaka does not believe the shoulder injury that forced her out of the WTA Finals will require surgery.

The two-time grand slam champion withdrew from the season-ending tournament in Shenzhen on Tuesday due to an issue with her right shoulder.

Osaka revealed she was troubled by the injury during her China Open triumph this month but hopes rest and rehabilitation in the off season will get her back to full fitness.

"I didn't serve for a while when I was in Japan," said Osaka, who was replaced by Kiki Bertens at the showpiece in China.

"I just started serving [in] the last two days. Felt better, came here, then I played my match [a victory over Petra Kvitova on Sunday]. I felt it immediately. When I woke up the day after, it was throbbing and stuff. Yeah, I didn't serve at all [on Monday]."

The former world number one added: "I injured my shoulder like five years ago or something, but not badly. It was in Thailand when I was like 17 or something. It wasn't that big of a deal. I just had to rest it. I'm hoping it's more like that.

"It doesn't feel like it's anything more serious than muscular. I think if it was like bone-related then I wouldn't be able to lift it, but I am able to do that. It's just a little bit painful.

"Definitely I don't think it's something that I would immediately need surgery for. I've never had surgery, so I feel like I'm very lucky on that. I'm not really hoping that will change any time soon."

World number one Ashleigh Barty suffered a surprise three-set loss to last-minute addition Kiki Bertens at the WTA Finals on Tuesday.

Bertens was called in to take Naomi Osaka's spot after the Japanese suffered a right shoulder injury and the Dutchwoman promptly made an impact in the Red Group.

After losing the first set, Bertens battled back to triumph 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Shenzhen, claiming her first win over Barty at the sixth attempt.

Barty, who came from a set down to win her opening match against Belinda Bencic, was the first player to qualify for the season-ending tournament back in early September but she failed to justify her tag as favourite for the title in a largely disjointed display.

It was a contest in which breaks of serve were frequent and a run of five defined the opener, Barty edging that back-and-forth to nudge ahead.

She was a break up in the second as a similar pattern emerged, but a first-serve percentage of just 41 was always likely to prove problematic and Bertens was producing more winners to further tip the balance in her favour.

With Barty serving at 4-3 down, Bertens sensed her opportunity and was the primary aggressor, striking for the lines and putting the French Open champion on the back foot.

Having fought to take the contest into a third set, Bertens was in no mood to relent and she stormed into a 4-0 lead, even fluffing two break-point openings to make it 5-0.

Despite a rally that saw the gap cut to 4-3, the die was cast and Barty was consigned to defeat in a clash that lasted over two hours.

World number three Naomi Osaka has withdrawn from the season-ending WTA Finals in Shenzhen due to a right shoulder injury.

The Japanese opened her campaign with a three-set victory over Petra Kvitova on Sunday but has deemed herself unfit to take part in her second Red Group match against Ash Barty on Tuesday.

She will be replaced by Kiki Bertens.

In a statement, Osaka said: "I’m disappointed to have to withdraw from the Finals.

"It has been a great event in Shenzhen, and it’s the biggest WTA event of the year. This is not how I wanted to end this tournament or my season. I look forward to getting healthy and hope to be back here in Shenzhen next year."

Osaka ends her year on an 11-match unbeaten run having not tasted defeat since her US Open title defence ended at the hands of Belinda Bencic at the round of 16 stage in September.

Since then, the 22-year-old has registered title wins in Osaka and Beijing.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made home advantage count as he defeated Andrey Rublev to progress into round two at the Paris Masters.

World number 35 Tsonga, who entered the final ATP Masters 1000 event of 2019 as a wildcard, proved one of the main attractions for fans on day one of the main draw and overcame Rublev 4-6 7-5 6-4 in a gruelling contest that lasted two hours and 23 minutes.

Tsonga's reward for a first victory in a Masters event in over two years is a meeting with Matteo Berrettini, who broke into the top 10 on Monday and occupies the last of two available ATP Finals spots.

Tsonga's compatriot Benoit Paire defeated Damir Dzumhur in straight sets, while Jeremy Chardy battled past Sam Querrey.

Adrian Mannarino set up a second-round tie with Rafael Nadal, while ATP Finals hopeful Alexander Zverev will go up against Fernando Verdasco, who beat Borna Coric.

There were also wins for Cristian Garin, Milos Raonic, Radu Albot, Jan-Lennard Struff and 2018 Australian Open finalist Marin Cilic.

 

TSONGA TEES UP BERRETTINI BOUT

New world number nine Berrettini sits 130 points clear of Roberto Bautista Agut in the Race for London rankings but will have to be at his best if 2008 Paris champion Tsonga can maintain the form he displayed against Rublev.

The Russian has impressed in 2019, winning in Moscow this month after victories over Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios and Roger Federer over the course of the season.

His campaign came to an end with a whimper, though, as Tsonga fought back from behind to claim a first win in a Masters-level match since May 2017.

Rublev only dropped serve three times, but the second such occasion handed Tsonga set two, with an early break in the decider giving the Frenchman the chance to serve out the triumph with a first match point.

 

NADAL NEXT UP FOR MANNARINO

With Roger Federer having withdrawn from the tournament, the path looks clearer for defending champion Novak Djokovic and soon-to-be world number one Nadal to taste success.

Nadal will be taking nothing for granted against Mannarino, though, with the wildcard having made light work of NextGen ATP Finals qualifier Casper Ruud.

Two breaks in each set put Mannarino in command and he duly marched through 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 13 minutes. 

 

FRANCE'S FAN FAVOURITES PROGRESS

It was a perfect day for the French players on Monday, with all those in action making it through. Joining Tsonga and Mannarino in the second round was Chardy, who edged out fellow qualifier Querrey 5-7 6-3 7-5.

In-form Daniil Medvedev awaits Chardy, with the US Open finalist and Shanghai Masters champion aiming to sharpen up ahead of the ATP Finals.

Paire, meanwhile, will go head-to-head with French number one Gael Monfils after a 7-5 6-4 triumph over Dzumhur.

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