Murray, Djokovic Headline Full Wednesday In Paris
Battle for No. 1 continues at BNP Paribas Masters
DAY 3 PREVIEW: The No. 1 and 2 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, headline a big Wednesday schedule at the BNP Paribas Masters. Overall, there are eight of the Top 10 seeds in second round action. Four Frenchmen are also on the order of play, including 2008 champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
All eyes will be on reigning three-time (four overall) BNP Paribas Masters champion Djokovic and Murray, who is the hottest player on the ATP World Tour since May. Murray, who lost to Djokovic in last year’s final, has reached the final in 10 of the 11 tournaments he has played in the past six months, winning a career-best seven titles. Now Murray is within striking distance of becoming No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time in his career.
The 29-year-old Briton needs to reach the final with Djokovic losing before the semi-finals or Murray can also pass Djokovic by winning the Paris title over any opponent other than the Serb. Both players come into the tournament with 15-match winning streaks. Murray won a Davis Cup match (d. Pella) in September and then captured three straight titles in Beijing, ATP Masters 1000 Shanghai and Vienna. Djokovic has won 15 straight matches in Bercy since 2013. He has ranked No. 1 for 122 consecutive weeks since July 7, 2014 and 223 overall in his career.
Djokovic is the fourth match on Court Central against big-serving left-hander Gilles Muller, who is 0-3 (0-8 in sets) against the World No. 1. Muller is 9-35 lifetime against Top 10 opponents (2-4 this season). Djokovic is trying to post his 60th match win of the season and extend his streak to 10 consecutive years with 60 (or more) match wins.
In the evening session, Murray brings an 11-1 career record against Fernando Verdasco. Murray has won the past six meetings against the Spaniard since Verdasco’s lone win came in the 4R at the 2009 Australian Open. Murray has won the most matches (69) on the ATP World Tour this season and he’s looking to win 70 matches for the second straight year. He won a career-best 71 last season. Verdasco has 22 career Top 10 wins and his last win over a World No. 2 came against countryman Nadal at 2012 ATP Masters 1000 Madrid.
In the last match on Court Central, No. 3 Stan Wawrinka takes on German qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff for the first time. Wawrinka is one of four players on the ATP World Tour this season to win at least four titles.
There are two spots remaining to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. Six players in contention are in action, including Dominic Thiem, who is 7th in the Emirates ATP Race to London. Thiem is 2-0 against top American Jack Sock. Marin Cilic, who holds the 8th and final spot, takes on big-serving countryman Ivo Karlovic for the fifth time (tied 2-2). Karlovic leads the ATP World Tour this season with 1,121 aces. Top Belgian David Goffin, who is 400 points behind Cilic, opens against Frenchman Nicolas Mahut on Court 1. Goffin has won two of the previous three meetings, including a three-set QF in Metz in September.
View the Emirates ATP Race To London
Other Frenchmen in action are: No. 11 Tsonga (vs. Albert Ramos-Vinolas), No. 13 Lucas Pouille (vs. Feliciano Lopez), and Gilles Simon (vs. No. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut). Tsonga and Pouille are facing the same opponents for the second straight week. Last week in Vienna, Tsonga beat Ramos-Vinolas 62 76 in the quarter-finals and Pouille lost to Lopez 64 26 75 in the 1R (after holding match point). Simon owns a 3-1 head-to-head advantage against Bautista Agut.