Novak Djokovic says he has room to improve despite easing past Taylor Fritz in straight sets to reach the semi-finals of the Paris Masters.

The world number one is competing in his first tournament since his dream of winning a calendar Grand Slam was ended by Daniil Medvedev in September's US Open final.

After beating Marton Fucsovics in three sets and then benefiting from a walkover against Gael Monfils in the last 16, Djokovic made light work of Fritz in Friday's quarter-final.

He sent down eight aces and was successful with 72 per cent of his first serves that landed on his way to a 6-4 6-3 victory.

However, Djokovic lost his serve on three occasions and, while happy with his overall display, the Serbian feels like there is more to come from his game in the French capital.

"I was absent from the tour for two months coming into this tournament," he said. "The last competitive match I played was in the US Open final, compared to the other guys playing one or two events prior to Paris.

"I knew that I needed to start well, with good intensity and put in a lot of hours on the practice court. But it's different when you play points in a competitive match.

"I am pleased with the way I played against Fucsovics and again today, though I did have ups and downs. I am not entirely pleased with the way I closed out the sets.

"I backed myself up with good returns and read Taylor's serve very well to get into rallies. I closed out the last couple of service games well and that's a positive."

Djokovic is aiming to win the Paris Masters for a record-extending sixth time in his bid to end the year as world number one for a record seventh occasion.

The Serbian will contest his 71st career Masters 1000 semi-final – four short of Rafael Nadal's record – against Hubert Hurkacz, who saw off James Duckworth 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 7-5.

With that victory, the world number 10 clinched the final singles spot at the ATP Finals in Turin later this month.

Hurkacz is the second Polish player to qualify for the event after Wojtek Fibak in 1976. It also means only European players will feature in the ATP and WTA Finals for the first time ever.

Saturday's other semi-final in Paris will be contested between Djokovic's US Open conqueror Medvedev and Olympic gold medallist Alexander Zverev.

Home favourite Hugo Gaston eliminated Pablo Carreno Busta earlier in the tournament but was always likely to face a tougher task against Medvedev.

So it proved, with the qualifier going down 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 in a match that saw Medvedev hit 13 aces to his opponent's one.

"When the atmosphere is against you, you need to face it," Medvedev said. "You need to try to win, no matter what.

"Even when it is against me, I think, 'I will try to beat my opponent and the crowd' because there is no other choice."

Zverev kept his momentum going with a 7-5 6-4 win over Casper Ruud in Friday's final contest, as he made it eight wins on the bounce.

The German held serve throughout, while breaking his opponent twice, to remain on course for a sixth final of 2021.

Jannik Sinner recovered from a slow start to reach the semi-finals of the Sofia Open with a straight-sets victory over James Duckworth.

The top seed won just two points across the first three games but took a first set that featured four breaks and lasted over an hour.

Duckworth broke in the first game of the second but eventually ceded that advantage and the frustrated Australian could not prevent Sinner from breaking again to claim a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win to set up a last-four clash with Filip Krajinovic, who prevailed in three sets against Kamil Majchrzak.

Gael Monfils will feature in the other semi-final after brushing aside Gianluca Mager 6-2 6-2, booking a meeting with American Marcos Giron.

It is a second semi-final in as many weeks for Monfils, who also reached the last four in Metz.

Giron will contest his first Tour-level semi-final following a 6-4 6-2 defeat of John Millman.

"Nothing is easy," Monfils said. "We have been putting in work for nearly four days here. Working on my serve and my forehand and it worked perfectly today. I will be ready for Marcos. He has been playing very well, so I think it will be a tough semi-final."

Alex de Minaur was again stunned by Marcos Giron as the third seed crashed out of the Sofia Open in the second round. 

Following his success over De Minaur at the Moselle Open last week, Giron beat the world number 26 once more as he battled to a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-2) victory in two hours. 

The unseeded American, appearing for the first time in Sofia, rallied from a break down in the second set to reach an ATP Tour quarter-final - where he will meet John Millman - for the fourth time this season. 

Millman, who is seeded eighth, lost the first set against qualifier Illya Marchenko but recovered well to comfortably triumph 5-7 7-6 (7-0) 6-3. 

However, it was far more straightforward for the other favourites, with top seed Jannik Sinner avoiding a second-set blip to defeat Egor Gerasimov 6-2 7-6 (7-3) and Gael Monfils getting a walkover against Ilya Ivashka. 

Number five seed Filip Krajinovic coasted past fellow Serbian Laslo Djere 6-3 6-0 in just over an hour to set up a quarter-final tie with Kamil Majchrzak. 

In Thursday's other match, world number 56 James Duckworth smashed Benoit Paire 6-4 6-4 in just an hour and 15 minutes to collect his 11th win in his past 12 outings. 

Duckworth, who reached his first ATP Tour final in Nur-Sultan last week, will now challenge defending champion Sinner in the next round. 

Kwon Soon-woo claimed his maiden ATP Tour title with a straight-sets defeat of James Duckworth at the Astana Open.

The South Korean came out on top in the battle of the unseeded first-time finalists on Sunday, winning 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 in Nur-Sultan.

Kwon won 86 per cent of points behind his first serve and came from behind in both sets to be crowned champion.

Australian Duckworth failed to convert three set points in a tie-break and Kwon made him pay, grasping his first opportunity to go a set up.

Kwon was broken in the first game of the second set, but the battling world number 82 hit straight back to draw level.

Duckworth, who had not dropped a set en route to the final, was broken again to trail 4-2 and he was unable to find a way back as the 23-year-old Kwon celebrated his finest hour.

 

Hubert Hurkacz and Pablo Carreno Busta will do battle for the Moselle Open title after the top two seeds reached the final with straight-sets victories on Saturday.

Top seed Hurkacz defeated German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to stand on the brink of a third title of the year.

The world number 13 from Poland won 79 per cent of the points on his first serve and sealed victory in an hour and 37 minutes.

Gojowczyk saved five break points but was unable to pull off an upset in Metz.

Hurkacz said: "Peter played a really great match. He was super tough to play against, so I am proud of myself that I managed my emotions and played a good tie-breaker.

"I was trying to keep holding serve to stay in the second set and ended up taking the set in the tie-breaker."

Carreno Busta ended Gael Monfils' bid to win the title on home soil, the Spaniard triumphing 7-5 7-6 (10-8).

Monfils was 5-3 up in a second-set tie-break but failed to force a decider as Carreno Busta advanced for a showdown with Hurkacz.

James Duckworth is into his first ATP Tour final after beating eighth seed Ilya Ivashka 6-3 7-6 (7-4) at the Astana Open.

The Australian will face Kwon Soon-woo, who upset second seed Alexander Bublik 3-6 7-5 6-3.

Top seed Aslan Karatsev exited the Astana Open at the last-16 stage with a straight-sets defeat to Emil Ruusuvuori on Thursday.

World number 84 Ruusuvuori saved a set point in the first-set tie-break on his way to a 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 victory and will now face Ilya Ivashka for a place in the semi-finals.

There was nearly another upset as home hopeful Alexander Bublik, seeded second, had to recover from a set down to overcome Miomir Kecmanovic 2-6 6-3 7-5.

Carlos Taberner awaits Bublik in the next round after the Spaniard beat Egor Gerasimov 5-7 7-6(5) 7-5.

Kwon Soon-woo and James Duckworth saw off Dusan Lajovic and Filip Krajinovic respectively in straight sets to remain a course for glory.

At the Moselle Open in Metz, meanwhile, Gael Monfils took out Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(2) 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals on home soil.

Tournament favourite Hubert Hurkacz made light work of 2016 champion Lucas Pouille with a 6-2 6-3 victory to set up a meeting with Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.

Elsewhere on Thursday, German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk proved too strong for Karen Khachanov and will now face Marcos Giron, who upset fourth seed Alex de Minaur.

Adrian Mannarino succumbed to a surprise Stuttgart Open first-round loss at the hands of James Duckworth on Wednesday.

The seventh-seeded Frenchman, knocked out by Aljaz Bedene in the first round at Roland Garros, was beaten 6-3 6-2 by a player ranked 65 places lower than him, with Duckworth outside the world's top 100.

Home hopes Yannick Hanfmann and Peter Gojowczyk progressed, the latter coming from a set down to beat Ilya Ivashka 5-7 6-4 6-2, but there was no such joy for fellow German Dominik Koepfer after he fell to wildcard Jurij Rodionov.

Elsewhere in the draw, there were wins for Feliciano Lopez, Sam Querrey, Dominic Stephan Stricker and Jordan Thompson. 

 

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