PARIS: Novak Djokovic added his voice to calls for a re-think of the late-season ATP calendar, admitting that he is having to work hard to hold up physically through this week’s Paris Masters to the year-ender in London.
The Serb, who will finish the season as world number one for the second year running, said he is trying to conserve his strength for the final competitive sprint — even in a season shortened by a fortnight.
“It is a big challenge,” said the Serb. “Obviously I’m sure all the participants in London will agree that this [ending the pre-London preparation week] is definitely not something that goes in the favour of us preparing for the most important event in the end of the year.”
Djokovic himself has not played since beating Britain’s Andy Murray for the title in Shanghai this month, then resting for two weeks. While Djokovic and Murray are competing in Paris, current world number one Roger Federer has opted to take a break before the start of the eight-man World Tour Finals on Monday.
“This is the schedule. It is the way it is. We have to adjust, we have to accept it. Unfortunately, there are no other options at the moment. But we will discuss this matter after we finish the season. Physically I feel good now, but I’m not the freshest guy on the Tour because I have had a long year. But I want to try to hold on these two weeks and perform my best, and then go to holidays.”
On court, wildcard Paul-Henri Mathieu, who missed 2011 with a knee injury, came through in dramatic style over Spanish qualifier Robert Bautista-Agut 6-4, 7-5. Bautista-Agut finally won it for five-all only to lose serve again as Mathieu squeezed through into a match with third-seed Murray. Compatriot Jeremy Chardy set up a match with Canadian Milos Raonic as he defeated Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 6-0, 6-3 while Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov beat Austrian Jurgen Melzer 7-6 (7/2), 6-2. Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz reached the first of the third-round spots as he upset Croatian 13th-seed Marin Cilic by the same scoreline.
Aisam, Rojer gifted second-round berth
Meanwhile, Pakistan tennis ace Aisamul Haq Qureshi and his doubles partner Jean-Julien Rojer secured their passage to the second round of the Paris Masters after being awarded a bye.
In other doubles matches, Americans John Isner and Sam Querrey were beaten by Britain’s Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins 6-7(4/7), 7-6(7/4), 10-7.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 31st, 2012.