Next Generation ATP Finals favourite Alex de Minaur started his 2019 campaign with a victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Milan.

De Minaur lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in last year's final and is the highest-ranked player competing this time around.

The Australian needed four sets to overcome Alejandro Davidovich 4-2 3-4 (5-7) 4-1 4-1 in Group A.

De Minaur, ranked 18th and a three-time winner on the ATP Tour this year, won eight of the final nine games to wrap up the match in style. 

"I just had to get in my head that I played a good second set," said De Minaur. "He just came up with big shots in big moments.

"I had to move on and remember what I was doing well the whole match. I felt a lot more comfortable as soon as I got the break [in the third set]."

In the same pool, Miomir Kecmanovic claimed a straight-sets victory over Casper Ruud.

There was only one break of serve in the whole contest, which the Serbian won 4-3 (7-5) 4-3 (7-5) 4-2.

In Group B, Swede Mikael Ymer sealed a 4-3 (7-2) 1-4 4-2 4-1 triumph over Ugo Humbert, and Jannik Sinner closed Tuesday's play by coming from a set down to beat Frances Tiafoe 3-4 (4-7) 4-2 4-2 4-2.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will meet in the group stage of the ATP Finals after being drawn together on Tuesday.

The pair have won 36 grand slams between them and triumphed at the season-ending tournament a collective 11 times, with Federer leading that head-to-head tally by one.

Joining the Swiss maestro and Djokovic in Bjorn Borg Group will be Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini.

Andre Agassi Group consists of world number one Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and reigning champion Alexander Zverev.

Nadal had been a doubt for the event after withdrawing ahead of the Paris Masters semi-final with an abdominal injury. 

The year-end number-one spot is up for grabs in London, with Nadal in the driving seat but Djokovic – the winner in Paris – ready to pounce.

Nadal has never won the ATP Finals, while Djokovic's last victory came in 2015 and Federer has endured an eight-year drought. 

Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Berrettini will each compete in the tournament for the first time, with the action scheduled to start on Sunday. 

Rafael Nadal is still hopeful of featuring in the ATP Finals after undergoing an MRI scan on the abdominal injury that forced him to withdraw from the Paris Masters.

Nadal pulled out of his semi-final tie with Denis Shapovalov in Paris on Saturday after experiencing abdominal discomfort in the warm-up.

Yet the Spaniard has provided a positive update on his fitness, revealing he will travel to London for the season-ending event that begins on Sunday.

In a tweet on Tuesday, Nadal said: "Hello everyone. I had an MRI in Mallorca and despite having a small bloating in my right abdominal, I will travel to London.

"The idea is to be able to play the #atpfinals in London. Thanks for the support."

Nadal withdrew from last year's ATP Finals due to an abdominal problem he picked up in Paris.

Despite his injury pull-out last weekend, the 19-time grand slam champion returned to the top of the world rankings on Monday, displacing Novak Djokovic.

Novak Djokovic is under no illusions over the size of the task he faces to claim the year-end number one ranking for the sixth time.

The Serbian beat Denis Shapovalov to seal his fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday, lifting his 34th Masters 1000 trophy in the process.

It kept alive his hopes of beating Rafael Nadal to the summit of the rankings at the end of 2019, but the 16-time grand slam winner knows he cannot afford to relent. 

"That puts me in a better position after this week. But, again, I have to keep on winning," he said after moving 640 points behind the Spaniard ahead of the ATP Finals in London.

"There's always a chance that I win all my matches in London, that I play well. I have done it in the past, and I like playing there. But it's [an] extremely difficult task considering who my opponents are going to be. You're playing a top 10 player every single match.

"So that's a big task on my end that I have to focus on. And as a consequence, if I manage to get the year-end number one, that would be, of course, fantastic."

Nadal withdrew in Paris ahead of his semi-final meeting with Shapovalov, citing an abdominal injury which could yet hamper him in London.

Djokovic was disappointed to see his rival pull out and hopes he is primed and ready to go at the season-ending tournament.

"I'm sad to see that he's injured because that's not what you want to see, not for Rafa, not for any other athlete," he said.

"I know how that feels. Obviously I went through major injuries in my life as well.

"I hope he can recover and compete in London. Because with or without him, obviously, also the battle for number one but also the tournament itself is different. He's a great champion and obviously lots of respect for him."

Novak Djokovic claimed his fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday with a straight-sets victory over Denis Shapovalov.

The number one seed triumphed 6-3 6-4 to lift his 34th Masters 1000 trophy - one short of Rafael Nadal's record haul - and keep alive his challenge to end the year at the top of the ATP rankings.

Having reached his first final at this level after Nadal withdrew from their semi-final with injury, Shapovalov, who lives in Nassau, offered plenty of swashbuckling style but gave up too many free points against a watertight Djokovic display.

The 20-year-old, who has taken only one set in three matches against the 16-time grand-slam champion, won only three of 17 points on his second serve as he lost in 68 minutes.

Shapovalov set about trying to force the ascendancy but two tight forehands when the court was at his mercy gave Djokovic an early break.

The Serbian dropped only four points on serve in the first set and Shapovalov smashed his racquet to the floor when he sent another return long in game seven.

Djokovic served out a clinical opening set with a hold to love and put his opponent under immediate pressure in the second, although Shapovalov dug himself out of a hole with a huge ace.

A terrific Shapovalov passing shot had the crowd on their feet, and he moved 2-1 ahead with a rasping forehand up the line, but he still could not make inroads against the Djokovic serve.

Djokovic was seething when he sent a backhand into the net when given a chance to go 30-0 up on Shapovalov's serve at 3-3, but three errors in succession handed the world number one the crucial break.

A long forehand gave Shapovalov his first break point in the next game, but a timely first serve and a missed backhand from the Canadian saw the opportunity pass him by.

Djokovic eased to three match points and promptly took tour-level title number five of 2019 with a crisp forehand, meaning his battle with Nadal for year-end number one will continue to the ATP Finals in London even though the Spaniard will move top of the rankings on Monday.

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the Paris Masters, handing Denis Shapovalov a final showdown with Novak Djokovic.

Nadal, who will return to world number one on Monday, had been set to face the Canadian in the semi-final on Saturday.

But the ATP Tour confirmed the Spaniard had pulled out with an abdominal injury sustained during the warm-up.

Nadal said: "In one of the last serves of the warm-ups, I felt something in the abdominal.

"For the rest of the week the things have been positive. I enjoyed a lot playing here in Bercy."

It means Shapovalov will contest his first Masters final, while Djokovic will go in search of a fifth Paris title on Sunday. 

Nadal would have secured top spot in the year-end rankings by winning the tournament. 

Novak Djokovic will have a shot at a fifth Paris Masters title on Sunday after edging out Grigor Dimitrov in a keenly contested last-four clash.

Djokovic prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 in a 98-minute encounter that neatly encapsulated the players' careers.

Talent-wise there was nothing between them, Dimitrov happy to trade fierce baseline blows with the world number one only to fall short when it really mattered.

That was particularly evident in the first-set tie-break. Dimitrov led 5-4 with two serves to come only to fire a forehand drive-volley wide at the end of an epic rally.

An unforced forehand error gifted Djokovic set point which he clinched after Dimitrov went long following another gruelling point that lasted 35 strokes.

Djokovic's level never dipped and when he broke for a 3-2 lead in the second the crowd sensed the game was up.

Dimitrov continued to fight but he could not find a way back with Djokovic refusing to yield a single break point opportunity.

The Serbian will next take on either Rafael Nadal or Denis Shapovalov.

Rafael Nadal battled past fan favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to take his place in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters.

Tsonga had displayed fine form in Paris heading into Friday's encounter, but Nadal, who is still yet to win the ATP 1000 event, had too much quality after making the breakthrough in a hard-fought first set.

While Nadal laboured at times, Novak Djokovic, who will relinquish his number one status to the Spaniard next week, had no such issues as he confidently dispatched Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Meanwhile, Matteo Berrettini – who was sent out by Tsonga in the last 32 – clinched the last remaining ATP Finals spot thanks to Denis Shapovalov's straight sets victory over Gael Monfils.

NADAL DIGS DEEP

Nadal twice had to serve to stay in the first set, but having forced the tie-break, a wonderful backhand pass paved the way for him to forge ahead.

With the serve dominating throughout set one, it was Tsonga who blinked first in the second – Nadal taking full advantage of two sloppy shots to secure a first break of the match.

Soon-to-be world number one Nadal had finally hit his stride, playing a sublime through-the-legs shot to further drain Tsonga's confidence.

Despite showing resilience to hold, Tsonga was soon a double-break down, with Nadal wrapping up a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 win when his opponent sent a desperate backhand return into the net.

 

DOMINANT DJOKOVIC HITS TOP GEAR

After struggling with illness in his opening matches, Djokovic was at his irresistible, untouchable best against Tsitsipas, who had no response to lose inside an hour.

A double break early in set one set the tone for Djokovic, who had the opener tied up in his favour inside 29 minutes.

Djokovic took just a minute longer to finish off set two, two more breaks ending any slim hopes of a Tsitsipas comeback before an overhit return from the Greek sealed his progression by an emphatic 6-1 6-2 scoreline.

 

BERRETTINI COMPLETES LONDON FIELD

With defending ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev having claimed his spot at the O2 earlier in the week, there was one place up for grabs heading into Friday's play.

The permutations were simple, with Monfils – ranked 10th in the Race for London – needing a win to take the place of Berrettini.

However, the French number one came unstuck in some style against Shapovalov, who cruised to a 6-2 6-2 triumph, and Berrettini now completes the top eight, alongside Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Tsitsipas and Zverev.

 

DIMITROV SWAPS HALLOWEEN TRICKS FOR SEMI-FINAL TREAT

Having already knocked out Thiem, Dimitrov claimed his spot in the last four with a 6-2 7-5 triumph over Cristian Garin, ending an 18-month wait to make a semi-final at ATP 1000 level.

The Bulgarian may have had to give up his Halloween celebrations, but it was a small price to pay.

"[A fantastic week] so far, I've skipped Halloween but it's a better place to be, here on centre court," Dimitrov told Tennis TV.

Halloween may have passed, yet the world number 27 now faces the scary prospect of going up against Djokovic for a place in the final.

Novak Djokovic made a statement of intent at the Paris Masters as he stormed into the semi-finals with a 6-1 6-2 demolition of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Djokovic will lose his status as world number one to Rafael Nadal next week but put in a rampant performance to which Tsitsipas had little response.

Having succumbed to seventh-ranked Tsitsipas in Shanghai last month, Djokovic took his revenge in supremely confident fashion on Friday.

Djokovic had been under the weather heading into his previous match with Kyle Edmund, yet any doubts over his fitness were swiftly cast aside as a double break put him 4-0 up 18 minutes into the first set.

Tsitsipas clawed back three set points in his next service game, but it merely stalled the inevitable as Djokovic nosed ahead with his fifth chance.

With a sixth Paris semi-final firmly in his sights, four-time champion Djokovic did not let up – successive breaks putting the Serbian into a commanding position at 4-1.

Again, his Greek opponent managed to restore some pride when he held his next serve without conceding a point, but Djokovic had the match wrapped up when a delicate drop-shot forced Tsitsipas into an overhit return.

Gregor Dimitrov, who beat Cristian Garin earlier on Friday, awaits the top seed in the last four.

Kyle Edmund has been named as the fifth and final player in Great Britain's line up for the Davis Cup finals.

Having endured a poor run of form, losing eight matches on the bounce, former British number one Edmund rallied with successive victories at the Paris Masters earlier this week.

He eventually fell to world number one Novak Djokovic in the round of 16, but his displays against Ricardas Berankis and Diego Schwartzman were enough to cement his place in Leon Smith's squad for the new-look event later this month.

Andy Murray had already been named in Great Britain's team after his triumph at the European Open, alongside his brother Jamie, Neal Skupski and Dan Evans.

"I'm delighted to name Kyle as the final nominated player to our Davis Cup team," Great Britain captain Smith said of Edmund, who saw off competition from Cameron Norrie.

"While Kyle has had a tough few months, he showed at the Paris Masters what level of tennis he is capable of producing.

"It's been a difficult decision to make as Cam Norrie has had a very good year on tour and is finishing the year ranked around number 50 in the world.

"It's a strong position for our team to be in when we have such high-quality players vying for selection."

Novak Djokovic may have sounded croaky but the four-time Paris Masters champion stayed in the hunt for another triumph in the French capital.

A 7-6 (9-7) 6-1 victory over Great Britain's Kyle Edmund carried the Serbian through to a tough-looking quarter-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Greek youngster Tsitsipas was a 6-3 6-4 winner against Australian Alex de Minaur, while Rafael Nadal dug deep for a gritty 6-4 6-4 win over Stan Wawrinka.

Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev were significant casualties, as the fifth and sixth seeds suffered respective defeats to Grigor Dimitrov and Denis Shapovalov.

And there was plenty of French joy, as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils thrilled the home crowds with dramatic three-set victories.

Djokovic eyes revenge

Djokovic lost to Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters in October but will fancy his chances of avenging that loss on Friday.

Despite his voice sounding far from healthy, Djokovic is feeling better after battling illness this week, and he is positive about the state of his game.

"The second set was the best set I've played so far in the tournament," Djokovic said, according to the ATP website. "Finished off with a winner, finished off with amazing return game. So, of course, the sensation is very positive. And I'm convinced that I'm headed in the right direction so that tomorrow will be even better."

The 32-year-old hopes to end the year at number one in the world rankings for the sixth time, even though Nadal is certain to be in pole position heading into the ATP Finals in London.

 

Tsonga next for Nadal

Nadal was not at his best against Wawrinka, yet he still extended his dominance over the Swiss three-time grand slam winner with a 19th win in their 22nd meeting.

He took two of the three break points he engineered to stay in the hunt for a first Paris Masters title. Given his immense success elsewhere - his 35 Masters 1000 titles is a record and he has landed 12 French Open titles - Nadal's limited success in Paris is a shortcoming he will be eager to address.

He should have enough for Tsonga on Friday, but the veteran Frenchman has come out punching this week and is beginning to look like the player who was a top-10 fixture for so long.

Tsonga landed a 2-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) victory over Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff and said: "When you play the best, it's always beneficial and it's not important whether you win or lose.

"When you play Rafa in the first round, it's a problem. If you play Rafa in the quarter-finals, it's normal. Of course, it's better for me to meet Rafa in quarter-finals after having played a few matches rather than during the first round."

Monfils keeps ATP Finals hopes alive

There is one place to fill at the season-ending ATP Finals, and Monfils is desperate to sustain his run this week to stay in contention.

After a 4-6 6-4 6-1 win against Romanian Radu Albot, the 33-year-old Parisian is on the brink but still not quite there and must see off Shapovalov to earn his ticket to London ahead of Matteo Berrettini.

Given Shapovalov's 6-2 5-7 6-2 win against Alexander Zverev, that could be a tall order for Monfils, whose French compatriot Jeremy Chardy could not boost the home contingent in the final eight, going down 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in a nail-biting thriller against Chilean Cristian Garin.

Despite the defeat, Zverev is certain to be involved in the English capital after sealing his spot on Wednesday.

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.

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."

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.

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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