If Tuesday brought little surprises at the Paris-Bercy Masters 1000, except the upset of 13th seed Marin Cilic, Wednesday was more active in this regard, as three seeds were ousted, and one of them in the most bizarre way possible.
By losing to Kevin Anderson and Michaël Llodra, respectively, Richard Gasquet and John Isner have effectively ended their chance to qualify for the ATP World Tour Finals, which will be played next week. Gasquet still has a chance to enter as an alternate, but all will depend on Juan Mónaco and Nicolás Almagro, who are still in contention.
However, it is the demise of Novak Djokovic that surprised the most, as it was the weirdest loss we could see, especially coming from the Serbian.
Arriving on court with a Darth Vader mask (after all, it was Halloween, although coming masked or disguised is now a tradition of sorts for him in Paris), Djokovic was quick to dictate pace, games, and match, and took a rapid 6-0 2-0 lead against Sam Querrey. The American then managed to break back and keep the set competitive, taking it in the tiebreak.
In the third, however, it was a completely different Djokovic who seemed to be on court, as he rained errors from all sides and seemed, both physically and mentally, elsewhere, and ended up being broken early in the set. Querrey did not play spectacularly, but he did so efficiently and kept his composure, saving five break points in a crucial seventh game to put the match within his reach, thanks to his potent serve, then closed out at 15 after a love hold from the Serbian to get away with the upset, 0-6 7-6(5) 6-4.
This was Djokovic’s earliest exit since Miami, back in 2010, and the first time this season he lost a match after having won the first set.
As for Querrey, it was without a doubt the biggest win of his career, and should be a great boost to his confidence, especially considering how he hung in the match and managed to turn things around, albeit with a little help from a battered rival.
For Novak Djokovic wasn’t in his best element. Having been sick at the beginning of the week, he also had some personal problems of which he refused to talk when questioned about it, but which turned out to be the hospitalisation of his father, Srdjan, who had acute respiratory problems. Thankfully, the worst is over and Mr. Djokovic should soon be discharged from the hospital.
Nevertheless, Nole can comfort himself (professionally speaking) while resting and getting ready for the World Tour Finals: on Monday, it was confirmed that he would end the year ranked n° 1 in the world for the second consecutive season.
The Paris-Bercy draw has opened nicely for some players with Djokovic’s defeat. Can David Ferrer take advantage of the draw and win his first career Masters 1000? Can Juan Martín del Potro continue building on his indoors winning streak to win his second big prize of the season (after the Olympic Bronze)? Will Andy Murray jump on the occasion to close the points gap separating him from this next goal (the top spot of the rankings)?
Many questions that will find their answer over the next few days.
A heart-breaker for Olivo
There is one match this Wednesday that caught my attention in the Challenger tournaments: the second-rounder opposing Leonardo Mayer and Renzo Olivo in Medellín.
It was the third meeting in three weeks between the two Argentines, and if Leonardo Mayer had the better comfortably in Villa Allende (6-3 6-0) and Buenos Aires (6-2 6-1), Renzo Olivo was determined to win one match against the World n° 71.
It was a very tight match, where both players conceded very little chances to break (only one break for each in the second set), and which ended in 2:55 and three tiebreaks, 7-6(4) 6-7(4) 7-6(2) in favour of Mayer.
Olivo was ahead 1-0 in the third set tiebreak when the rain came to spoil the party. When play resumed, Mayer started off much better than his opponent, winning six straight points and putting the match out of reach for the 20-year-old from Rosario.
A heartbreaking loss for Renzo Olivo.
There is, nevertheless, a silver lining for this very talented young player: he is getting closer to such big wins. At the beginning of September, he also came really close to defeating current World n° 22 Andreas Seppi in the first round of the Genova Challenger, although he ended up losing in three sets.
Olivo has been on a steady rise in the rankings all summer and is now at a career high of n° 294. There is not much missing for everything to come together and for him to rise even higher. He showed it again today.