Fritz wins in Paris to remain in hunt for ATP Finals spot

Fritz rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the opening set and took the second by winning the last four games.

US’ Taylor Fritz plays a forehand return during the men’s singles match against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

US’ Taylor Fritz plays a forehand return during the men’s singles match against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. | Photo Credit: CHRISTOPHE ARCHAMBAULT

Fritz rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the opening set and took the second by winning the last four games.

Taylor Fritz of the United States stayed in contention for one of the two remaining ATP Finals spots by beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5, 6-2 in the first round of the Paris Masters on Monday.

The ninth-seeded Fritz rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the opening set and took the second by winning the last four games. Davidovich Fokina made 24 unforced errors to just nine for Fritz.

Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic have already qualified for the ATP Finals.

Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz are in the running to round out the eight-player field.

“It’s been the best season ever,” Fritz said in an on-court interview. “No pressure. I’m just trying to have the best result I possibly can. I played well here last year, so I don’t see why I can’t do it again this year.”

Fritz has won titles in Tokyo, Eastbourne and Indian Wells this season. He lost to eventual champion Djokovic in the Paris Masters quarterfinals last year.

No. 13 seed Matteo Berrettini withdrew because of a left foot injury and was replaced by lucky loser Fabio Fognini in the main draw.

Jannik Sinner and Marin Cilic were the only seeded players to get knocked out on Monday.

No. 11 seed Sinner lost to Swiss qualifier Marc-Andrea Huesler 6-2, 6-3, while No. 15 seed Cilic was stunned by Italian Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-4.

“I got a bit lucky on some important points,” Huesler said, “I made the right decisions in tight moments.”

Americans John Isner, Maxime Cressy and Frances Tiafoe also progressed.

Isner made a winning comeback in his return from a wrist injury by downing qualifier Oscar Otte 6-4, 7-6 (3).

The American broke for 4-3 and in the second set he saved two set points at 5-4. He raced to a 6-0 lead in the tiebreaker and his 19th ace won the match.

Isner will next play No. 7 seed Rublev.

Cressy dispatched Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 6-3 to next face Djokovic, while No. 16 seed Tiafoe beat Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-4.

Also moving on were Cameron Norrie, Karen Khachanov, wild card Richard Gasquet, Yoshihito Nishioka, Gilles Simon, Mikael Ymer and Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Nishioka beat Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-4 and will next take on top-ranked Alcaraz.

Simon, retiring at the end of the season, outlasted two-time Olympic champion Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Murray failed to serve out the match at 6-4, 5-3, making a couple of unforced errors to help Simon break back.

Ranked 188th in the world, Simon lived up to his reputation as a tactician who makes opponents hit bad shots. Murray made 36 unforced errors to 11 by the French wild card.

Simon capitalized on two forehand errors from Murray to break for a 2-1 lead in the third set. Murray hit a backhand wide and three double faults in the final game.

No. 12 seed Norrie cruised past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2, 6-4, while Khachanov ousted Sebastian Baez 6-1, 6-1, and Basilashvili defeated qualifier Quentin Halys 6-3, 6-4.

Wild card Gasquet outclassed Alex Molcan 6-3, 6-1.

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