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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Nadal, Djokovic in same half of Paris Masters draw

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Paris: Rafael Nadal, faces a tough path at the season’s final ATP Masters 1000 event following release of the draw, when it was revealed the Spaniard is in the same half of the draw as six-time champion Novak Djokovic.

Nadal, who at the Paris Masters will compete for the first time since the Laver Cup, will begin his run against former Top 10 player Roberto Bautista Agut or American Tommy Paul, who has enjoyed the best season of his career.

The first seeded opponent Nadal, who will pursue his first title at the indoor hard-court event, could face this year’s Montreal champion, 14th seed Pablo Carreno Busta. Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece is also in his quarter.

The Spaniard has advanced to at least the quarter-finals of the tournament in his eight previous appearances. He has tallied a 22-6 record at the event.

Sixth seed Djokovic will open against serve-and-volleying American Maxime Cressy or former Top 10 player Diego Schwartzman.

The Serbian arrives on a nine-match winning streak after lifting trophies in Tel Aviv and Astana, tournaments that are also played on indoor hard courts. Djokovic owns a record 38 Masters 1000 crowns.

Top seed Carlos Alcaraz will start his chase for a third Masters 1000 trophy this season against Aslan Karatsev or Yoshihito Nishioka. The Spaniard could play 13th seed Matteo Berrettini in the third round. Nitto ATP Finals contenders Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz are also in the first quarter.

With the ATP Live Race To Turin heating up, one potential match in the second quarter of the draw could prove critical. Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is seventh in the Live Race, is projected to meet Taylor Fritz, who is eighth.

They are both in Daniil Medvedev’s quarter of the draw. The fourth seed will play the winner of Alex de Minaur and Sebastian Korda in the second round, with US Open semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe a potential third-round opponent.

The Paris Masters will be the final tournament of Gilles Simon’s career, and the Frenchman will play former World No. 1 Andy Murray in the first round. Another intriguing matchup will see in-form Intesa Sanpaolo ATP Finals qualifier Holger Rune face former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka.

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