Stefanos Tsitsipas got the better of Alexei Popyrin to tighten his grip on top spot in the Ultimate Tennis Showdown after the third weekend of the series.

Greek rising star Tsitsipas came from behind to sneak a 3-2 success over Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez on Saturday, and he followed that on Sunday with a 3-1 triumph against Australian prospect Popyrin.

The behind-closed-doors and unorthodox tournament is being staged across five consecutive weekends at the Cote d'Azur tennis academy run by Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou, with a quickfire format aimed at attracting new fans to the sport.

Each match consists of four 10-minute quarters, rather than sets, with a point going to the winner of each quarter.

A sudden-death tie-break follows at the end of the match if scores are level at two quarters each, with the first player to take back-to-back points declared the winner.

World number six Tsitsipas has now won five of his six matches in the competition, putting him ahead of Italian Matteo Berrettini and France's Richard Gasquet, who each have won four times but lost twice.

Dominic Thiem, who has played just four matches, has won three times and lost once, and this weekend the Austrian world number three earned 3-1 successes over David Goffin and Berrettini.

Gasquet suffered a 4-0 loss to Berrettini on Saturday but bounced back by beating fellow Frenchman Corentin Moutet 3-1 on Sunday.

Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Benoit Paire in his first match in the 2020 Ultimate Tennis Showdown.

The event in France, created by Serena Williams' coach Patrick Mouratoglou, is aimed at attracting new fans to the sport and is one of the first tennis tournaments to take place since the coronavirus pandemic struck Europe.

The event is played in a league format, with each match consisting of four quarters and a sudden-death fifth if the scores are level.

On Sunday, world number six Tsitsipas defeated Paire 3-1, hitting more than 30 winners en route to victory.

Gasquet beat David Goffin 3-2 after sudden death, with Feliciano Lopez overcoming Lucas Pouille by the same scoreline.

The UTS' first match was won by Alexei Popyrin against Frenchman Elliot Benchetrit, while Matteo Berrettini also claimed a 3-1 victory over Dustin Brown.

Matteo Berrettini still gets goosebumps when he thinks about being complimented by Roger Federer.

Despite starting 2019 outside the top 50, Berrettini ended the year with a place in the ATP Finals as the world number eight.

Titles in Budapest and Stuttgart, an appearance in the final in Munich and a run to the US Open semi-finals proved key to the Italian's remarkable ascendancy.

His impressive rise did not go unnoticed by Federer, who praised Berrettini's performances when they were in action at the Halle Open.

The 20-time major champion offered more words of encouragement when their first on-court meeting ended in Federer triumphing 6-1 6-2 6-2 in the fourth round of Wimbledon.

Berrettini told Stats Perform: "Before Wimbledon I played Stuttgart and Halle. I won Stuttgart whose defending champions was Federer.

"In Halle I met him and he complimented me. Before we only exchanged some hellos but to be complimented by him still gives me goosebumps.

"We didn't speak during Wimbledon because we were in the same half of the draw, so no tips. But then he told me: 'Congratulations for your grass season. Go on like this and you will go high.'

"Then we met again in London for the ATP Finals. He was very kind because we chatted during the famous boat trip from the hotel to the arena. We chatted about the holidays and his plans.

"The relationship with all of them is so weird. I grew up looking up to them, you know. But the relationship is good, they are special."

Berrettini will not get to continue his development on grass this season with the whole swing, including Wimbledon, cancelled due to the coronavirus.

The 23-year-old is disappointed he will not get to play at the All England Club, having gained a greater affinity for the surface following his displays in 2019.

"Without a shadow of a doubt, Wimbledon is my favourite slam. I reached the US Open semis but I regard Wimbledon as the temple of our sport," said Berrettini.

"I always say that in this place even people who are not experts or passionate about tennis, go there and get keen to be participating and playing. It is wonderful and its cancellation is very tough for us.

"It is a peculiar situation. It is on grass and in England where the weather is mostly rainy, they can play only in certain dates. They can't move it to November because in London it would be five degrees. That's why the cancellation.

"Until last year, though, my relationship with grass was not ideal at all. But since the Davis Cup tie in India, everything changed for me.

"Maybe I improved in some aspects, but I didn't even realise at the end of the season I had played many high-level games on that surface and now it is one of my favourite."

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were untroubled, but Grigor Dimitrov was among five seeds to fall at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

Federer produced an excellent performance in a straight-sets thrashing of Filip Krajinovic on Rod Laver Arena.

The Swiss great had received good news before even going on court after three seeds fell in his quarter of the draw, with Fabio Fognini only narrowly avoiding that fate.

Earlier, Djokovic dropped just seven games on his way to a thrashing of Tatsuma Ito in Melbourne.

 

FEDERER, DJOKOVIC EASE THROUGH

Having lost a set in the opening-round victory over Jan-Lennard Struff, Djokovic suffered no such setback against Ito, winning 6-1 6-4 6-2.

A record seven-time champion in Melbourne and 16-time grand slam winner, Djokovic brushed past Ito on the back of 31 winners.

Federer was even more impressive later in the day, crushing Djokovic's Serbian compatriot Krajinovic 6-1 6-4 6-1.

The 20-time grand slam champion looked in fabulous form with 42 winners and just 14 unforced errors, reaching the third round in Melbourne for the 21st straight year.

Federer will next face John Millman, who upset 31st seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 7-5 6-3. The Australian stunned Federer at the US Open in 2018.

 

DIMITROV AMONG SEEDS TO CRASH OUT

Dimitrov, a semi-finalist in 2017, bowed out in a surprise 6-4 7-6 (8-6) 3-6 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (10-3) loss to Tommy Paul.

The Bulgarian 18th seed went up by a break twice in the final set, but lost seven consecutive points from 3-3 in the match tie-break.

Matteo Berrettini, the eighth seed who reached the US Open semi-finals, was edged out by Tennys Sandgren 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 4-6 2-6 7-5.

Sandgren reached the quarter-finals in 2018 and will face Sam Querrey in an all-American third-round clash.

British 30th seed Dan Evans also made a second-round exit, losing to Djokovic's next opponent, Yoshihito Nishioka, 6-4 6-3 6-4.

 

CILIC, RAONIC ADVANCE AS TSITSIPAS GETS FREE PASS

Marin Cilic, runner-up in 2018, eliminated 21st seed Benoit Paire in a thriller.

The Croatian needed three hours, 33 minutes to overcome Paire 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 3-6 6-1 7-6 (10-3).

Next up for Cilic is a man he has lost to twice at the Australian Open in Roberto Bautista Agut, the Spanish ninth seed too good for Michael Mmoh 5-7 6-2 6-4 6-1.

Milos Raonic has reached at least the Australian Open quarter-finals four times and the Canadian has shown impressive form early on this year.

The 29-year-old served 19 aces in a 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over Cristian Garin on Wednesday and next faces 2019 semi-finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas advanced without hitting a ball after Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew due to a muscle strain.

 

FOGNINI TAKEN THE DISTANCE BY THOMPSON

It is proving to be an arduous campaign for Fognini, who surrendered a two-set lead before holding his nerve in a decisive tie-break with home hope Jordan Thompson.

The Italian was taken the distance in his first-round meeting with Reilly Opelka after losing the first two sets, and this time it was the 12th seed who almost choked on a healthy lead.

Fognini hurt himself when punching his racket in frustration and was called for a foot-fault in the fifth-set breaker, but he got the job done in a memorable 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 3-6 4-6 7-6 (10-4) triumph that took more than four hours to complete. 

Novak Djokovic vowed to "enjoy every moment" after reaching the second round of the Australian Open on an opening day that saw seeds Denis Shapovalov and Borna Coric crash out.

Djokovic started the defence of his title with a battling 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 2-6 6-1 victory over Jan-Lennard Struff at Melbourne Park on Monday.

Losing his serve three times while dropping the third set and having to edge a close tie-break in the opener meant Djokovic spent longer than he would have hoped on court, but he relished the two-hour-and-16-minute encounter.

Asked about winning his 900th Tour-level match, the second seed said: "I'm obviously very proud of all the achievements, but at the same time I try to remind myself how grateful I am to be playing this sport at a high level at this stage of my career. 

"I can't take things for granted, I'm trying to enjoy every moment. It's a New Year resolution, to enjoy more. It's easier said than done when you're on the court.

"Especially in my position, I'm expected to win all my matches, there's a lot of pressure and emotions involved. But I try to really enjoy it, the two and half hours spent on court were a lot of fun."


SHAPOVALOV AND CORIC FALL AT FIRST HURDLE

The biggest shock of the day saw number 13 seed Shapovalov fall to a four-set defeat against Hungarian world number 67 Marton Fucsovics.

Fucsovics won 7-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 7-6 (7-3) in three hours and 13 minutes as the highly-rated Canadian crashed out.

Shapovalov lost his temper with the umpire when he was giving a code violation for racket abuse despite it not being damaged.

"I think that's a terrible call from the [umpire]," Shapovalov said. "The rule [according to] what I know is that if I break my racket, yeah you can code me, but you can't code me for slamming it.

"I'm not doing anything and it didn't impact anyone and the racket was still intact. He gave me a warning because I did it two or three times and I think that's not the way it works."

Number 25 seed Coric was eliminated in straight sets by Sam Querrey. 

The American won 6-3 6-4 6-4 as a dreadful run for Coric, which has seen him win only one of his last 10 matches, went on.
 

FEDERER AND TSITSIPAS COAST THROUGH

Roger Federer progressed in comfortable fashion, the third seed seeing off Steve Johnson 6-3 6-2 6-2 in only 81 minutes.

Johnson only forced one break-point opportunity in the match against the 20-time grand slam and did not convert it.

Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, the ATP Finals champion and a semi-finalist in Melbourne last year, got off to a smooth start, defeating Salvatore Caruso 6-0 6-2 6-3.

 

RAIN LEAVES MATCHES UNFINISHED

Inclement weather left a host of Monday's other first-round matches incomplete, with Reilly Opelka closing in on an upset against Fabio Fognini when play was suspended at 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 1-0.

Rising star Jannik Sinner has a 2-0 lead over Max Purcell with the third set level at 4-4, while Roberto Bautista Agut was a set up against Feliciano Lopez.

Milos Raonic is one game away from a first-round win, his match against Lorenzo Giustino all-but over with the Canadian 6-2 6-1 5-2 to the good.

Croatia's hopes of defending their Davis Cup title took a huge early blow as they were beaten 3-0 by Russia in Madrid on Monday.

Champions a year ago, Croatia's chances of even progressing from the first stage in the 2019 Finals already look remote – with Rafael Nadal's Spain still to play in Group B.

Croatia took on Russia on centre court following the opening ceremony in a match-up that was hindered by key withdrawals ahead of the tournament.

Marin Cilic, who led Croatia to victory in 2018, missed out with injury, while Russia's Daniil Medvedev ducked out citing fatigue.

Russia dealt with the absence of their number one in far more convincing fashion than Croatia, though, with Borna Gojo comfortably eased out 6-3 6-3 by Andrey Rublev in the first of three contests.

The two remaining star names did battle next, but Russia again came out on top as Karen Khachanov rallied past Borna Coric 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-4.

And then Rublev and Khachanov teamed up for a straight-sets doubles success against Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic.

Elsewhere, there was an upset as Italy went down to Canada 2-1, with both Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini beaten in singles play.

Vasek Pospisil, ranked 150th in the world, defeated Khachanov at the US Open and claimed another scalp against Fognini, before Berrettini was turned over by Denis Shapovalov.

Italy sent in their two stars for the doubles, where they gained a measure of revenge over Pospisil and Shapovalov, winning in three.

Belgium survived David Goffin's awful start to his rubber to win 2-1 against Colombia.

Steve Darcis had earlier seen off Santiago Giraldo in straight sets, but Goffin fell four games behind in the opener against Daniel Elahi Galan before staging a fightback.

He won 3-6 6-3 6-3, although Colombia got on the board with a doubles comeback from Juan-Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.

Matteo Berrettini bowed out of the ATP Finals on a high note by claiming his first victory of the tournament, ending Dominic Thiem's 100 per cent record in the process.

Thiem, who had already qualified for the semi-finals for the first time at the O2 Arena with magnificent victories over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, was beaten 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 by an inspired Berrettini on Thursday.

The exertions put into defeating two of the all-time greats appeared to have taken a toll on the fifth seed, Berrettini capitalising to become the first Italian to win a match at the season-ending event.

Tournament debutant Berrettini struck 30 winners - 17 off his powerful forehand - and was broken only once, ending a successful season by levelling their head-to-head record at 2-2.

Federer and Djokovic will battle it out in the second session for the right to join Thiem in advancing from Group Bjorn Borg in London.

Berrettini seized control in the opening set by breaking to love for a 5-4 lead, a cross-court winner, following up one on his backhand side, drawing applause from his opponent.

The eighth seed failed to consolidate, netting a forehand volley after an excellent return from Thiem, but Berrettini put that behind him by bossing the tie-break, wrapping it up with an ace.

Berrettini's blistering forehand continued to fire in the second set and he broke to lead 4-2 following rasping winners off both wings, then ended his fruitful campaign with a drop shot that Thiem was unable to chase down.

Roger Federer opened his account at this year's ATP Finals at the second attempt, beating Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 on Tuesday.

Having started out with a loss to Dominic Thiem on Sunday, Federer needed a victory over London debutant Berrettini to kick-start his campaign ahead of a showdown against Novak Djokovic in his final outing of the round-robin stage.

World number eight Berrettini, who was easily brushed aside by Djokovic at the weekend, put up stubborn resistance in the opening set but the 23-year-old was too often found wanting against his opponent’s serve.

Federer was far more dominant in the second, the six-time champion securing victory after 78 minutes on court in the English capital.

"It's strange to lose and then play again, but I did it last year so have some experience," Federer said. "It was always going to be difficult against Matteo, with the big serve.

"I was pretty clean on my own service game, I think that helped. I hope I can keep it up and maybe play a bit better in the next match."

Berrettini played a brilliant pass in game five as both players held serve comfortably in the early stages.

Indeed, it was not until Federer was 6-5 up that either player had a chance to break, though the 38-year-old failed to take advantage, Berrettini clawing back the set point to draw level again.

Federer made the first move in the tie-break, Berrettini slipping up with a forehand to give his opponent the lead, while an exquisite backhand put the 20-time grand slam champion further ahead – much to the delight of the O2 crowd.

A double fault further dashed Berrettini's hopes, with Federer subsequently wrapping up the 43-minute set on his own serve.

The world number three broke to love to open the next in style and though the Italian stopped the rot with a lob, a supreme drop shot maintained Federer's two-game cushion.

Federer's focus seemed to slip on his next serve, however, and he had to claw back three break points before finally taking a lengthy game.

A sliced forehand from his rival secured victory for the Swiss, who has not won the season-ending tournament since 2011.

Novak Djokovic made a superb start to his ATP Finals campaign with a dominant 6-2 6-1 triumph over tournament debutant Matteo Berrettini.

In the first match of this year's season finale, Djokovic – who is aiming to oust Rafael Nadal as world number one after he was dethroned by the Spaniard earlier this week – made a statement of intent in the Bjorn Borg group.

Five successive, clinical breaks of serve saw last year's runner up – a four-time champion at the O2 Arena – ease to an emphatic victory in just 63 minutes.

Berrettini, the last player to qualifier for the finals, walked towards the wrong exit after Djokovic's win was sealed on a first match point, and given the beating he had just taken, it was perhaps no surprise the Italian seemed slightly shocked.

"It feels great to be back in, earlier this year I had a great stay in London, played well at Wimbledon," Djokovic told BBC Sport.

"Over the years I've played really well in this arena. I've been enjoying it very much.

"It's not easy for Matteo, playing his first tour finals match, I knew he'd be a bit more nervous at the beginning, I tried to use my experience.

"I was fortunate to get the break midway through the first set. He's got big weapons with his serve and forehand but I managed to play really solid."

Djokovic beat Roger Federer in a Wimbledon final for the ages in his last appearance in London, and the Serbian was swiftly into his rhythm against world number eight Berrettini.

Having not dropped a point in the opening game, the 32-year-old forced Berrettini to deuce on his first serve before two breaks handed him the set.

Berrettini claimed a brilliant point in game two of the second set, managing to reach for a low backhand that Djokovic could only skew into the air, providing his opponent with a simple volley.

But it merely stalled Djokovic's process for a brief moment – Berrettini, who is renowned for his powerful serves, going 2-0 and a break down.

Another break for Djokovic followed, though Berrettini did capitalise on the only break point he was afforded.

It mattered little, however, Djokovic getting the better of his opponent's serve once more before rounding off the win with a controlled cross-court forehand.

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will meet in the group stage of the ATP Finals after being drawn together on Tuesday.

The pair have won 36 grand slams between them and triumphed at the season-ending tournament a collective 11 times, with Federer leading that head-to-head tally by one.

Joining the Swiss maestro and Djokovic in Bjorn Borg Group will be Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini.

Andre Agassi Group consists of world number one Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and reigning champion Alexander Zverev.

Nadal had been a doubt for the event after withdrawing ahead of the Paris Masters semi-final with an abdominal injury. 

The year-end number-one spot is up for grabs in London, with Nadal in the driving seat but Djokovic – the winner in Paris – ready to pounce.

Nadal has never won the ATP Finals, while Djokovic's last victory came in 2015 and Federer has endured an eight-year drought. 

Medvedev, Tsitsipas and Berrettini will each compete in the tournament for the first time, with the action scheduled to start on Sunday. 

Rafael Nadal battled past fan favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to take his place in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters.

Tsonga had displayed fine form in Paris heading into Friday's encounter, but Nadal, who is still yet to win the ATP 1000 event, had too much quality after making the breakthrough in a hard-fought first set.

While Nadal laboured at times, Novak Djokovic, who will relinquish his number one status to the Spaniard next week, had no such issues as he confidently dispatched Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Meanwhile, Matteo Berrettini – who was sent out by Tsonga in the last 32 – clinched the last remaining ATP Finals spot thanks to Denis Shapovalov's straight sets victory over Gael Monfils.

NADAL DIGS DEEP

Nadal twice had to serve to stay in the first set, but having forced the tie-break, a wonderful backhand pass paved the way for him to forge ahead.

With the serve dominating throughout set one, it was Tsonga who blinked first in the second – Nadal taking full advantage of two sloppy shots to secure a first break of the match.

Soon-to-be world number one Nadal had finally hit his stride, playing a sublime through-the-legs shot to further drain Tsonga's confidence.

Despite showing resilience to hold, Tsonga was soon a double-break down, with Nadal wrapping up a 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 win when his opponent sent a desperate backhand return into the net.

 

DOMINANT DJOKOVIC HITS TOP GEAR

After struggling with illness in his opening matches, Djokovic was at his irresistible, untouchable best against Tsitsipas, who had no response to lose inside an hour.

A double break early in set one set the tone for Djokovic, who had the opener tied up in his favour inside 29 minutes.

Djokovic took just a minute longer to finish off set two, two more breaks ending any slim hopes of a Tsitsipas comeback before an overhit return from the Greek sealed his progression by an emphatic 6-1 6-2 scoreline.

 

BERRETTINI COMPLETES LONDON FIELD

With defending ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev having claimed his spot at the O2 earlier in the week, there was one place up for grabs heading into Friday's play.

The permutations were simple, with Monfils – ranked 10th in the Race for London – needing a win to take the place of Berrettini.

However, the French number one came unstuck in some style against Shapovalov, who cruised to a 6-2 6-2 triumph, and Berrettini now completes the top eight, alongside Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, Tsitsipas and Zverev.

 

DIMITROV SWAPS HALLOWEEN TRICKS FOR SEMI-FINAL TREAT

Having already knocked out Thiem, Dimitrov claimed his spot in the last four with a 6-2 7-5 triumph over Cristian Garin, ending an 18-month wait to make a semi-final at ATP 1000 level.

The Bulgarian may have had to give up his Halloween celebrations, but it was a small price to pay.

"[A fantastic week] so far, I've skipped Halloween but it's a better place to be, here on centre court," Dimitrov told Tennis TV.

Halloween may have passed, yet the world number 27 now faces the scary prospect of going up against Djokovic for a place in the final.

Alexander Zverev qualified for the ATP Finals when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Matteo Berrettini, while Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic reached the third round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday.

Zverev will return to London to defend his title next month and Berrettini is in danger of missing out after he was beaten 6-4 6-3 by home favourite Tsonga.

Tsonga's compatriot Gael Monfils remained in contention for the eighth and final place in the season-ending showpiece by winning an all-French encounter with Benoit Paire 6-4 7-6 (7-4).

Roberto Bautista Agut, David Goffin, Fabio Fognini and Diego Schwartzman can no longer qualify for the tournament at the O2 Arena after they bowed out in the French capital on day three.

Djokovic and Nadal, vying to end the year at the top of the rankings, beat Corentin Moutet and Adrian Mannarino respectively in straight sets.

 

 

FOUR STILL STANDING IN HUNT FOR FINAL LONDON SPOT

Berrettini, Monfils, Stan Wawrinka and Alex de Minaur are the remaining contenders to join Zverev in London.

Italian Berrettini's fate is out of his hands following his exit, with Monfils, Wawrinka and De Minaur able to overtake him by winning the title this weekend.

Monfils will meet Radu Albot in the third round, while Wawrinka faces a huge battle with Nadal following a straight-sets win over Marin Cilic and De Minaur dumped out Bautista Agut, setting up a showdown with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

 

NADAL SERVE LAYS FOUNDATION FOR WINNING RETURN

Second seed Nadal did not face a break point in his first main-draw match since winning the US Open.

The 19-time time major champion, who will end the season as world number one if he wins the tournament for the first time, was pleased with his return to action 10 days after marrying long-time girlfriend Maria Francisca Perello

"[I'm very happy with the way that I served." said the Spaniard, who beat Mannarino 7-5 6-4. "I didn't face a break point during the whole match, and against a player who returns well. So that means a lot. Feelings are good. To be back in this court is always special."

 

DJOKOVIC CONTENT TO 'FIND A WAY'

Djokovic knows he slipped below his usual high standards in a 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 victory over lucky loser Moutet but was simply happy to progress given he has not been feeling at his best.

"I didn't feel health-wise 100 per cent in the last couple of days, but it is what it is. It's not the first time I didn't play at a really high level. Lots of errors, especially in the first set," said the Serb, who saved two set points in the opening set and will face Kyle Edmund in the third round.

"First time against a young player who is talented, very quick. Returns a lot of balls back that usually other guys wouldn't get, he gets it. And he was pumped, and I respect his fighting spirit. It was a good match in the end, and I found a way to win, which in [these] circumstances... when you're not feeling your best, is important."

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made home advantage count as he defeated Andrey Rublev to progress into round two at the Paris Masters.

World number 35 Tsonga, who entered the final ATP Masters 1000 event of 2019 as a wildcard, proved one of the main attractions for fans on day one of the main draw and overcame Rublev 4-6 7-5 6-4 in a gruelling contest that lasted two hours and 23 minutes.

Tsonga's reward for a first victory in a Masters event in over two years is a meeting with Matteo Berrettini, who broke into the top 10 on Monday and occupies the last of two available ATP Finals spots.

Tsonga's compatriot Benoit Paire defeated Damir Dzumhur in straight sets, while Jeremy Chardy battled past Sam Querrey.

Adrian Mannarino set up a second-round tie with Rafael Nadal, while ATP Finals hopeful Alexander Zverev will go up against Fernando Verdasco, who beat Borna Coric.

There were also wins for Cristian Garin, Milos Raonic, Radu Albot, Jan-Lennard Struff and 2018 Australian Open finalist Marin Cilic.

 

TSONGA TEES UP BERRETTINI BOUT

New world number nine Berrettini sits 130 points clear of Roberto Bautista Agut in the Race for London rankings but will have to be at his best if 2008 Paris champion Tsonga can maintain the form he displayed against Rublev.

The Russian has impressed in 2019, winning in Moscow this month after victories over Dominic Thiem, Nick Kyrgios and Roger Federer over the course of the season.

His campaign came to an end with a whimper, though, as Tsonga fought back from behind to claim a first win in a Masters-level match since May 2017.

Rublev only dropped serve three times, but the second such occasion handed Tsonga set two, with an early break in the decider giving the Frenchman the chance to serve out the triumph with a first match point.

 

NADAL NEXT UP FOR MANNARINO

With Roger Federer having withdrawn from the tournament, the path looks clearer for defending champion Novak Djokovic and soon-to-be world number one Nadal to taste success.

Nadal will be taking nothing for granted against Mannarino, though, with the wildcard having made light work of NextGen ATP Finals qualifier Casper Ruud.

Two breaks in each set put Mannarino in command and he duly marched through 6-4 6-2 in one hour and 13 minutes. 

 

FRANCE'S FAN FAVOURITES PROGRESS

It was a perfect day for the French players on Monday, with all those in action making it through. Joining Tsonga and Mannarino in the second round was Chardy, who edged out fellow qualifier Querrey 5-7 6-3 7-5.

In-form Daniil Medvedev awaits Chardy, with the US Open finalist and Shanghai Masters champion aiming to sharpen up ahead of the ATP Finals.

Paire, meanwhile, will go head-to-head with French number one Gael Monfils after a 7-5 6-4 triumph over Dzumhur.

Dominic Thiem reached his third ATP Tour final in as many months with a battling victory over Matteo Berrettini at the Vienna Open.

Home hope Thiem, a recent winner at the Generali Open and China Open, avenged his Shanghai Masters loss to Berrettini by coming from behind to triumph 3-6 7-5 6-3 in two hours and 33 minutes.

Thiem, the top seed, will meet Diego Schwartzman in Sunday's final at the ATP 500 event, having made it to the showpiece match at this tournament for the first time in his 10th attempt.

After benefiting from Pablo Carreno Busta's retirement on Friday, the Austrian's task was not as straightforward in his semi-final against the third-seeded Italian, who had beaten him in the last eight in Shanghai a fortnight ago.

He dropped the first set after an energetic Berrettini broke three times.

But Berrettini's 28-match run of winning matches after claiming the first set came to an end amid a superb atmosphere.

After the pair exchanged breaks, Thiem made the decisive breakthrough to move 6-5 up in the second set before holding comfortably, levelling the match with a forehand up the line.

Thiem had won 10 of his previous 12 deciding sets this season and stretched that to a Tour-leading mark of 11 by breaking twice to race away with the third set, sealing victory with a backhand winner down the line on his second match point.

Despite Saturday's loss, Berrettini will reach the top 10 of the world rankings on Monday after his exploits this week and has boosted his hopes of joining Thiem in qualifying for the ATP Finals.

The second semi-final contained two players also hoping to reach London, as Schwartzman claimed a comfortable victory over Gael Monfils.

Argentine Schwartzman broke twice in each set to win 6-3 6-2 in 75 minutes, securing the win and a third final appearance of 2019 when Monfils fired a backhand long on his first match point.

Matteo Berrettini gave his hopes of qualifying for the ATP Finals a huge shot in the arm, while Dominic Thiem benefitted from Pablo Carreno Busta's withdrawal at the Vienna Open.

Italian Berrettini ended Andrey Rublev's seven-match winning streak with a hard-earned 7-5 7-6 (7-4) triumph in Austria to book a semi-final berth.

Berrettini, who will break into the world's top 10 on Monday, is eighth in the race for a place at the end-of-season tournament in London and is 130 points clear of Roberto Bautista Agut – a last-eight loser to Reilly Opelka in Basle.

Austrian home favourite Thiem, aiming to win this tournament for the first time, will be next up for Berrettini in the last four.

World number five Thiem was leading 5-0 against Carreno Busta when the Spaniard was forced to retire.

Diego Schwartzman still has an outside chance of reaching London himself and recovered from falling 3-0 behind in the first set to defeat Karen Khachanov 7-6 (8-6) 6-2.

The Argentinian plays Gael Monfils for a spot in the final after the Frenchman earned a convincing 7-5 6-1 triumph over Aljaz Bedene. 

Monfils moves into the top 10 in the race to London, as the battle for places in the English capital heats up.

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