Top seed Rafael Nadal advanced to the Mexican Open quarter-finals in straight sets, while Alexander Zverev was a shock casualty.

Nadal – playing his first competitive tournament since the Australian Open – produced some highlight moments as he saw off Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2 7-5 in Acapulco on Wednesday.

A two-time winner of the ATP 500 event, world number two Nadal was a class above against his Serbian opponent to stay on course for the title.

After his powerful display, the 19-time grand slam champion will face Kwon Soon-woo for a spot in the semi-finals after the South African beat eighth seed Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (7-2) 6-0.

Australian Open semi-finalist Zverev was bundled out of the tournament by American qualifier Tommy Paul 6-3 6-4.

Zverev dropped his opening service game and it was a sign of things to come for the German star as Paul capitalised to eventually claim the biggest win of his career.

Next up for 22-year-old Paul is fifth seed John Isner, who downed fellow American Marcos Giron 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

Grigor Dimitrov saved two match points as he prevailed 6-7 (8-10) 6-2 7-6 (7-2) against Adrian Mannarino in a thriller.

Mannarino erased Dimitrov's 4-1 lead in the final set to earn a pair of match points but the Bulgarian rallied to set up a showdown with third seed Stan Wawrinka, who eased past Pedro Martinez 6-4 6-4.

Elsewhere, fourth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime was surprised 6-4 6-4 by Kyle Edmund and Taylor Fritz topped Ugo Humbert 6-4 6-1.

At the Chile Open in Santiago, seeds Casper Ruud, Hugo Dellien and Federico Delbonis all moved through to the quarters but Pablo Cuevas fell to qualifier Renzo Olivo.

Top seed Rafael Nadal advanced to the Mexican Open quarter-finals in straight sets, while Alexander Zverev was a shock casualty.

Nadal – playing his first competitive tournament since the Australian Open – produced some highlight moments as he saw off Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2 7-5 in Acapulco on Wednesday.

A two-time winner of the ATP 500 event, world number two Nadal was a class above against his Serbian opponent to stay on course for the title.

After his powerful display, the 19-time grand slam champion will face Kwon Soon-woo for a spot in the semi-finals after the South African beat eighth seed Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (7-2) 6-0.

Australian Open semi-finalist Zverev was bundled out of the tournament by American qualifier Tommy Paul 6-3 6-4.

Zverev dropped his opening service game and it was a sign of things to come for the German star as Paul capitalised to eventually claim the biggest win of his career.

Next up for 22-year-old Paul is fifth seed John Isner, who downed fellow American Marcos Giron 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

Grigor Dimitrov saved two match points as he prevailed 6-7 (8-10) 6-2 7-6 (7-2) against Adrian Mannarino in a thriller.

Mannarino erased Dimitrov's 4-1 lead in the final set to earn a pair of match points but the Bulgarian rallied to set up a showdown with third seed Stan Wawrinka, who eased past Pedro Martinez 6-4 6-4.

Elsewhere, fourth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime was surprised 6-4 6-4 by Kyle Edmund and Taylor Fritz topped Ugo Humbert 6-4 6-1.

At the Chile Open in Santiago, seeds Casper Ruud, Hugo Dellien and Federico Delbonis all moved through to the quarters but Pablo Cuevas fell to qualifier Renzo Olivo.

Top seed Rafael Nadal advanced to the Mexican Open quarter-finals in straight sets, while Alexander Zverev was a shock casualty.

Nadal – playing his first competitive tournament since the Australian Open – produced some highlight moments as he saw off Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2 7-5 in Acapulco on Wednesday.

A two-time winner of the ATP 500 event, world number two Nadal was a class above against his Serbian opponent to stay on course for the title.

After his powerful display, the 19-time grand slam champion will face Kwon Soon-woo for a spot in the semi-finals after the South African beat eighth seed Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (7-2) 6-0.

Australian Open semi-finalist Zverev was bundled out of the tournament by American qualifier Tommy Paul 6-3 6-4.

Zverev dropped his opening service game and it was a sign of things to come for the German star as Paul capitalised to eventually claim the biggest win of his career.

Next up for 22-year-old Paul is fifth seed John Isner, who downed fellow American Marcos Giron 6-3 7-6 (7-4).

Grigor Dimitrov saved two match points as he prevailed 6-7 (8-10) 6-2 7-6 (7-2) against Adrian Mannarino in a thriller.

Mannarino erased Dimitrov's 4-1 lead in the final set to earn a pair of match points but the Bulgarian rallied to set up a showdown with third seed Stan Wawrinka, who eased past Pedro Martinez 6-4 6-4.

Elsewhere, fourth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime was surprised 6-4 6-4 by Kyle Edmund and Taylor Fritz topped Ugo Humbert 6-4 6-1.

At the Chile Open in Santiago, seeds Casper Ruud, Hugo Dellien and Federico Delbonis all moved through to the quarters but Pablo Cuevas fell to qualifier Renzo Olivo.

Stan Wawrinka was forced into a huge battle before advancing in the Mexican Open first round on Monday.

Wawrinka, the third seed at the ATP 500 event in Acapulco, needed two hours, 45 minutes to edge Frances Tiafoe 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-1).

The Swiss three-time grand slam champion squandered four match points before battling through.

Wawrinka was the only seed in action on Monday, as two American qualifiers – Tommy Paul and Marcos Giron – progressed.

Adrian Mannarino overcame wildcard Cameron Norrie 2-6 6-3 6-3, Miomir Kecmanovic edged past Alex de Minaur 3-6 6-4 6-3 and Kyle Edmund hammered Feliciano Lopez 6-4 6-1.

At the Chile Open, sixth seed Hugo Dellien got through the first round, while Roberto Carballes Baena and wildcards Thiago Seyboth Wild and Marcelo Tomas Barrios Vera also won.

Alexander Zverev is standing by his promise to donate the entire 4,120,000 Australian dollars in prize money if he wins the Australian Open after reaching the semi-final.

Following his first-round win at Melbourne Park earlier this month, Zverev pledged to give the winner's prize fund to bushfire relief if he went all the way in the year's opening grand slam.

The gesture touched hearts in Australia and it is a step closer to fruition after seventh seed Zverev progressed to his maiden slam semi-final thanks to Wednesday's 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 win over Stan Wawrinka. 

"I mean, my parents grew up in the Soviet Union, where you were a professional tennis player, my dad would make money outside the country, but he would have to give it away when he was getting into the country," Zverev, who will face either Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem in the final four, told reporters. 

"Funny enough, for them, where they never had any money, you would think that now maybe we have some, you want to keep it all for yourself. But they always said that money is something that should cause change in the world and should be put into a good thing, not keep it in a bank account and do nothing with it.

"Of course, if I win the four million, it's a lot of money for me. I'm not Roger [Federer], I'm not LeBron James, something like that. This is still big. But at the same time I know that there's people right now in this country, in this beautiful country, that lost their homes and actually they need the money. 

"They actually depend on it, building up their homes again, building up their houses again, building up the nature that Australia has, the animals as well. I think there's much better use for those people with that money than I have right now."

"When I first said it, everybody came up to me: I really want to see you give that four million cheque to somebody else and not keep it. Like, I am going to do it. It's not a problem for me. Players couldn't really believe it," he continued.

"But as I said, at the same time there are other people that are more money-driven than me. I just believe with this money I could start something positive. This is what matters most to me, not what somebody else thinks about it."

Zverev completed a stunning turnaround against three-time major champion Wawrinka after losing the opening set in just 24 minutes.

After the lopsided set, Zverev rallied and turned the match on its head to become the first German since Tommy Haas (Wimbledon 2009) to progress to a slam semi.

Finally living up to the hype, having struggled at slam level, 11-time ATP Tour winner Zverev said: "I've done well at other tournaments. I've won Masters Series, World Tour Finals. But the grand Slams were always the week where I kind of even wanted it too much. 

"I was doing things in a way too professional. I was not talking to anybody. I wasn't going out with friends. I wasn't having dinner. I was just really almost too, too focused. Changed that a little bit this week. I'm doing much more things outside the court. 

"I also was playing that bad at ATP Cup that I didn't have any expectations. I wasn't really expecting myself in the semi-finals or quarter-finals. Maybe this is a steppingstone. Maybe this is how it should happen. We'll see how it goes now in two days' time."

Alexander Zverev reached his first grand slam semi-final after overcoming a horror start against 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka, completing a stunning turnaround in four sets.

Zverev, 22, was annihilated in a lopsided opening set but the seventh seed rallied past three-time major champion Wawrinka 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Already enjoying his best Melbourne Park run, highly rated Zverev has yet to deliver on his enormous potential at slam level, but the 11-time ATP Tour champion became the first German since Tommy Haas (2009 Wimbledon) to progress to a major semi.

Zverev, who has promised to donate his entire prize money should he win the tournament, will face either world number one Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem in the final four.

It was a jaw-dropping start from the near-flawless Wawrinka as the veteran – without a semi-final appearance since the 2017 French Open – steamrolled Zverev in a 24-minute opening set.

Imposing, powerful and precise, Wawrinka raced out to a 5-0 lead through 16 minutes against Zverev – who was powerless after shanking a forehand into the upper tier of Rod Laver Arena.

Wawrinka – struck down by injuries in recent years – won 100 per cent of his first serves and hit seven winners as Zverev lost a set for the first time this tournament.

While the first set was one-way traffic, the second was anything but as Zverev flicked the switch and wrestled back momentum.

Zverev, who was coming off just 11 points, went from tallying 10 unforced errors in the first to just two in the second set to claw himself back in the contest, also winning all 18 of his first serves.

Having not earned a break point chance in the opener, Zverev finally broke through in the eighth game after Wawrinka fired a forehand into the net as he levelled the match.

It was a topsy-turvy third set – the pair exchanging breaks to begin with before Zverev broke in the fifth game to move ahead following Wawrinka's backhand into the net.

Wawrinka saved a pair of set points at 5-3 but it only delayed the inevitable as Zverev took a two-sets-to-one lead and the latter rode his momentum in the fourth.

Zverev broke twice inside the opening three games of a one-sided set, with Wawrinka avoiding a bagel in a consolation for the 34-year-old.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN 
Zverev [7] bt Wawrinka [15] 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS   
Zverev – 34/28
Wawrinka – 35/39

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS   
Zverev – 13/1
Wawrinka – 4/5  

BREAK POINTS WON  
Zverev – 5/13
Wawrinka – 3/6

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE  
Zverev – 80
Wawrinka – 56

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE  
Zverev – 76/42
Wawrinka – 69/52

TOTAL POINTS  
Zverev – 104
Wawrinka – 94 

Rafael Nadal survived a fourth-round test at the Australian Open, but Daniil Medvedev fell to Stan Wawrinka in Melbourne on Monday.

Nadal overcame Nick Kyrgios in a huge battle on Rod Laver Arena, reaching the quarter-finals at the year's first grand slam for the 12th time.

The man he conquered in last year's US Open final, Medvedev, fell short in a five-set thriller against Wawrinka.

Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev's impressive run continued and Dominic Thiem also advanced to the last eight.

 

NADAL GETS PAST KYRGIOS

Nadal needed three hours, 38 minutes and a fine performance to edge past Kyrgios 6-3 3-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-4).

The world number one, who has endured a frosty relationship with the Australian, hit 64 winners and made just 27 unforced errors in his win.

A visibly emotional Kyrgios warmed up for the blockbuster clash in a Kobe Bryant jersey, paying tribute after the Los Angeles Lakers great's death on Sunday.

The 23rd seed fought hard as the pair put on a show, but was left to rue costly errors in the two tie-breaks.

Nadal will face Thiem, who powered past Gael Monfils 6-2 6-4 6-4 in under two hours, as the Spaniard's bid to join Roger Federer on 20 grand slam titles continues.

Thiem, 26, reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the first time.

 

RESURGENT WAWRINKA OVERCOMES MEDVEDEV

Champion in Melbourne in 2014, Wawrinka produced what was the only upset of the day – at least by ranking – as he eliminated Medvedev.

The Swiss three-time grand slam champion claimed his first win in three meetings with the Russian fourth seed, winning 6-2 2-6 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2.

After failing to go beyond the third round of any major in 2018, Wawrinka reached two quarters in 2019 and is into the last eight in Melbourne for the first time since 2017 – the year he underwent knee surgery.

The loss saw Medvedev fall to a 0-6 win-loss record in five-setters in his career.

"As I say, I don't like to play five sets," he told a news conference. "I get tired. Even though I'm there, I want to win it. As I say, at this moment, didn't win one in my life. We'll try better next time."

 

ZVEREV'S CLASSY RUN CONTINUES

Next up for Wawrinka is Zverev, who is yet to drop a set after impressively brushing past Russian 17th seed Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4.

Zverev, the German seventh seed, did not face a break point on his way to the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time.

It also marked the first time Zverev has reached the quarters at a major other than the French Open, where he lost in the last eight in 2018 and 2019.

"He showed why he's a grand slam champion, beating Medvedev, coming back from two sets to one down, playing great tennis," Zverev said about Wawrinka.

"He's still one of the toughest players to play, especially here in Australia."

Nick Kyrgios emerged triumphant in a dramatic five-set clash with Karen Khachanov despite struggling with a hamstring injury, booking a highly anticipated meeting with Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the Australian Open.

After passing up match points in the third and fourth sets, home favourite Kyrgios came out on top in the longest match of his career by beating Khachanov 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (6-8) 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-8) at a raucous Melbourne Arena in four hours, 26 minutes.

Top seed Nadal beat fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-1 6-2 6-4 in one hour, 38 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, while US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev overcame Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-3 6-2 and will face Stan Wawrinka in the last 16.

The Swiss advanced after John Isner retired while 6-4 4-1 down, with Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Gael Monfils joining him in round round four.

 

CROCKED KYRGIOS CLINGS ON

Kyrgios started confidently against Khachanov and, despite taking a medical time-out at 5-2 up in the first set, managed to edge a second-set tie-break while continuing to grip at the back of his leg.

However, he was unable to repeat the trick at the second time of asking and became increasingly frustrated as the Russian wrested control of the match away from him.

Kyrgios appeared to be struggling for motivation at points and became increasingly vocal, but he hung in to take the victory to the delight of his fervent supporters.

The Australian has a strained relationship with Nadal, who he described as "salty" after their meeting at last year's Mexican Open and impersonated after being called for a time violation while serving against Gilles Simon in round two.

Asked about going up against the 19-time major champion in his on-court interview, Kyrgios said: "Whatever happened between us he's an amazing player. I'm not even thinking about that right now, I'm thinking about my legs and getting them in an ice bath and getting some food."

 

NO STOPPING NADAL

Nadal was at his imperious best against Carreno Busta, winning 87 per cent and 78 per cent of points behind his first and second serve respectively, while also smashing 41 winners – twice as many as his opponent.

"It was my best match of the tournament so far, without a doubt. Big difference between today and the previous days. I have been serving well, starting to create damage with the forehand," said Nadal.

"Every day is a different story. But, of course, it's important to make steps forward. It's clear that today I made an important one."

Asked if he likes Kyrgios, Nadal said: "I don't know. I don't know him personally, honestly, to have a clear opinion."

 

RUBLEV ROLLS ON

Rublev started 2020 with titles at the Qatar Open and Brisbane International and has continued his fine form at Melbourne Park.

The world number 16's 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 7-6 (7-4) triumph over David Goffin was his 15th match win in succession, four of which came in the Davis Cup Finals.

Rublev had wobbles after taking big leads in both tie-breaks, but Goffin made 27 unforced errors in the last two sets to help the Russian progress to a meeting with Zverev.

Seventh seed Zverev is yet to drop a set at Melbourne Park after overcoming Fernando Verdasco 6-2 6-2 6-4.

 

"IT'S A DISGRACE"

After beating qualifier Ernests Gulbis 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-3 to set up a fourth-round meeting with Dominic Thiem – who overcame 29th seed Taylor Fritz 6-2 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 – Monfils refuted a report claiming excessively playing video games led to him suffering a hand injury.

"You know, as I say, it's misunderstanding with people. I say this in a funny way, to be honest, but it's a disgrace, to be honest with you, because I'm fine," Monfils told reporters in a news conference.

"I'm in the second week, playing great tennis. I think it's just someone who, I don't know, try to — you know, I played ATP Cup, was fine. I practiced here for one month. I was really fine.

"I never said I was hurt. Somehow, you know, playing PlayStation, this? Come on. And it's easy, because I think I'm a good name to make up good story like that. Now you know."

Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev booked their spots in the Australian Open third round, while Alexander Zverev and Stan Wawrinka also progressed.

Nadal remained on track in his bid to win a 20th grand slam title despite wasting chances against Federico Delbonis in Melbourne on Thursday.

The seeds have been relatively untroubled in the opening rounds in Australia, and they are on a collision course heading into the end of the first week and into the second.

Medvedev, Zverev and Wawrinka were also among the winners in the top half of the draw.

 

NADAL BATTLES INTO ALL-SPANISH THIRD-ROUND CLASH

Nadal converted just three of 20 break points to overcome Delbonis 6-3 7-6 (7-4) 6-1.

The Spanish star was wasteful before winning in two hours, 30 minutes, while he apologetically kissed a ball girl after striking her with a wayward forehand late in the victory.

Awaiting Nadal is Pablo Carreno Busta, the 27th seed having got past German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk 6-4 6-1 1-6 6-4.

Nadal has won his previous four meetings with Carreno Busta.

 

MEDVEDEV, ZVEREV AND WAWRINKA ADVANCE

Runner-up to Nadal at last year's US Open, fourth seed Medvedev was too strong for Spain's Pedro Martinez as he won 7-5 6-1 6-3.

Another member of the 'Next Gen', Zverev got the job done against Egor Gerasimov, winning 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 7-5.

Zverev will meet Fernando Verdasco after the Spanish veteran upset 26th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili in four sets.

Wawrinka, the 2014 champion, was pushed hard by Andreas Seppi, but the Swiss made it 10 wins in 14 meetings with the Italian veteran, securing a 4-6 7-5 6-3 3-6 6-4 victory.

John Isner awaits Wawrinka after the American served 32 aces in a 6-4 6-3 6-3 win against Chilean qualifier Alejandro Tabilo.

Dominic Thiem (fifth seed) and David Goffin (11th) were pushed to five sets before overcoming Alex Bolt and Pierre-Hugues Herbert respectively.

 

KYRGIOS, KHACHANOV SET UP CINCINNATI REMATCH

Nick Kyrgios and Karen Khachanov were both tested before setting up a third-round clash.

Kyrgios got past Gilles Simon 6-2 6-4 4-6 7-5, while Khachanov needed four hours, 34 minutes to edge Mikael Ymer 6-2 2-6 6-4 3-6 7-6 (10-8).

Khachanov won his previous meeting with Kyrgios in Cincinnati last year, but it was a clash best remembered for the Australian's outburst at umpire Fergus Murphy that resulted in a 16-week suspended ban and fine.

Gael Monfils, Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz were among the other seeds to win through on Thursday.

The 108th edition of the Australian Open begins on Monday as the world's best tennis players battle it out at the first grand slam of 2020.

Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka will return to defend the titles they won last year, adding to the event's storied history.

The pair will face stiff competition from stacked fields in the men's and women's draw as a host of players seek glory in Melbourne.

To whet your appetite for the forthcoming feast of tennis, here is a selection of the best Opta facts related to the Australian Open.

 

- The last three years have seen the 12 women's grand slam tournaments being won by 10 different players; only Simona Halep and Osaka have won twice in that span.

- Djokovic won his seventh Australian Open title in 2019, the most of any male player in the history of the tournament. He has won the event every time he has reached the semi-finals.

- Of the last 14 editions of the Australian Open, 12 have been won by either Djokovic (7) or Roger Federer (5) – Rafael Nadal (2009) and Stan Wawrinka (2014) are the only other winners in that period.

- Victoria Azarenka (2012, 2013), Serena Williams (2009, 2010) and Jennifer Capriati (2001, 2002) are the only women to have won successive titles at the Australian Open since 2000.

- Federer won his sixth Australian Open title in 2018, 14 years after his first win at the event; no player has won multiple Australian Open titles over a longer period in the Open Era. It is his last win in a grand slam tournament to date.

- Since 2005 only Williams (2010, 2015) and Azarenka (2013) have won the title at the Australian Open as the number one ranked player in the world.

- Williams has not won any of the last 11 grand slams, with her last victory coming at the Australian Open in 2017 when she was pregnant – this is the American's longest span without a major title.

- Petra Kvitova lost in the final of the Australian Open last year, the only time she went further than the quarter-finals in her last 19 grand slam appearances, since winning Wimbledon in 2014.

- Either Nadal or Andy Murray has been the runner-up in nine of the last 10 Australian Open men's finals, Murray losing five times and Nadal four. Marin Cilic in 2018 is the only other player to lose an Australian Open final in that span.

- The last time an Australian made it to the men's final at the Australian Open was Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 and the last Australian to win the title was Mark Edmondson in 1976 (against fellow Australian John Newcombe).

Venus Williams' clash with Coco Gauff headlines the Australian Open first round, but former champion Stan Wawrinka also faces an early test in Melbourne.

Williams and Gauff will meet for the second time in what is a blockbuster opening-round encounter.

But there are several intriguing clashes in the first round at the year's first grand slam and we take a look at six of the best.

 

Damir Dzumhur v Stan Wawrinka [15]

Wawrinka would have preferred a friendlier draw than a man he has lost to in two of their three meetings. The Swiss 2014 champion was resurgent last year, while Dzumhur has been unable to replicate the form of his breakout season in 2017. Still, the Bosnian beat Wawrinka in three sets on clay in Geneva last year so the three-time grand slam champion will have to be near his best.

Daniil Medvedev [4] v Frances Tiafoe

Tiafoe thrilled during a run to the quarter-finals in Melbourne last year, but that would prove to be the high point of his 2019. The American has made a slow start to 2020 with first-round losses in Doha and Auckland, but was competitive against Medvedev in a 6-2 7-5 loss in Washington last year. After a spectacular 2019 that included reaching the US Open final, Medvedev shapes as the most likely to stop the 'Big Three', although he will need to get through a somewhat tricky opener first.

Sam Querrey v Borna Coric [25]

While he has dropped off since 2017, Querrey will fancy his chances against Coric after the Croatian's difficult finish to last year. Coric finished 2019 with six straight losses and suffered two more at the ATP Cup, to go with a win over Dominic Thiem. After four consecutive first-round exits in Melbourne, Coric reached the fourth round last year, while Querrey has never been beyond the third round in Melbourne. Coric won their only previous meeting at the French Open in 2015.

Venus Williams v Coco Gauff

Arguably the pick of any first-round match, the 39-year-old Williams meets the 15-year-old Gauff once more. Gauff stunned Williams 6-4 6-4 at Wimbledon last year and her ranking then (313) compared to now (66) tells the story of how she finished 2019 as the teenager followed it up with a title win in Linz. Williams withdrew from Brisbane due to injury, making this a hugely tough task for the seven-time grand slam singles champion.

Kristina Mladenovic v Karolina Pliskova [2]

Pliskova has enjoyed Melbourne in recent years, reaching at least the quarter-finals in each of the past three, but was handed a tough start in 2020. The Czech is coming off a title win in Brisbane and that will give her much-needed confidence ahead of facing former world number 10 Mladenovic. The pair have split their previous four meetings, with Mladenovic winning the last of those in 2017.

Donna Vekic [19] v Maria Sharapova

A wildcard, Sharapova was always going to be the danger in the draw – and she landed alongside 19th seed Vekic. Vekic enjoyed a fine 2019 to rise into the world's top 20, while Sharapova battled injuries and has fallen to 145th in the rankings. Vekic should be the favourite to advance, but if five-time major winner Sharapova can find some form, the Russian is always a threat and last bowed out in the opening round in Melbourne in 2010.

Stan Wawrinka claimed a comfortable 6-3 6-4 victory over Jeremy Chardy to reach the quarter-finals of the Qatar Open on Tuesday.

In his first match of 2020, top seed Wawrinka saved six of the seven break points he faced and came from 0-3 down in the second set to book a meeting with Aljaz Bedene, who overcame Alexander Bublik 6-3 7-5.

Laslo Djere defeated Lorenzo Sonego 6-1 3-6 6-2 and Mikhail Kukushkin downed Malek Jaziri 6-0 6-3, earning a clash with second seed Andrey Rublev in round two.

Wawrinka's doubles partner Frances Tiafoe – seeded eighth in the singles – lost 6-4 4-6 6-4 to Marton Fucsovics, while Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Cem Ilkel also progressed.

Jeremy Chardy beat Gregoire Barrere in three sets on Monday to set up a meeting with top seed Stan Wawrinka in the second round of the Qatar Open.

Chardy saved six set points before being taken do a decider by Barrere, who passed up six chances to break his opponent and succumbed to a 6-3 3-6 6-3 defeat.

Seventh seed Adrian Mannarino exited after a 6-3 6-4 loss to Alexander Bublik, while Filip Krajinovic – seeded sixth – came from a set down to beat Kyle Edmund 4-6 6-3 6-3.

There were also wins for Fernando Verdasco, Aljaz Bedene, Corentin Moutet and Miomir Kecmanovic.

Novak Djokovic may have sounded croaky but the four-time Paris Masters champion stayed in the hunt for another triumph in the French capital.

A 7-6 (9-7) 6-1 victory over Great Britain's Kyle Edmund carried the Serbian through to a tough-looking quarter-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Greek youngster Tsitsipas was a 6-3 6-4 winner against Australian Alex de Minaur, while Rafael Nadal dug deep for a gritty 6-4 6-4 win over Stan Wawrinka.

Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev were significant casualties, as the fifth and sixth seeds suffered respective defeats to Grigor Dimitrov and Denis Shapovalov.

And there was plenty of French joy, as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils thrilled the home crowds with dramatic three-set victories.

Djokovic eyes revenge

Djokovic lost to Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals of the Shanghai Masters in October but will fancy his chances of avenging that loss on Friday.

Despite his voice sounding far from healthy, Djokovic is feeling better after battling illness this week, and he is positive about the state of his game.

"The second set was the best set I've played so far in the tournament," Djokovic said, according to the ATP website. "Finished off with a winner, finished off with amazing return game. So, of course, the sensation is very positive. And I'm convinced that I'm headed in the right direction so that tomorrow will be even better."

The 32-year-old hopes to end the year at number one in the world rankings for the sixth time, even though Nadal is certain to be in pole position heading into the ATP Finals in London.

 

Tsonga next for Nadal

Nadal was not at his best against Wawrinka, yet he still extended his dominance over the Swiss three-time grand slam winner with a 19th win in their 22nd meeting.

He took two of the three break points he engineered to stay in the hunt for a first Paris Masters title. Given his immense success elsewhere - his 35 Masters 1000 titles is a record and he has landed 12 French Open titles - Nadal's limited success in Paris is a shortcoming he will be eager to address.

He should have enough for Tsonga on Friday, but the veteran Frenchman has come out punching this week and is beginning to look like the player who was a top-10 fixture for so long.

Tsonga landed a 2-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) victory over Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff and said: "When you play the best, it's always beneficial and it's not important whether you win or lose.

"When you play Rafa in the first round, it's a problem. If you play Rafa in the quarter-finals, it's normal. Of course, it's better for me to meet Rafa in quarter-finals after having played a few matches rather than during the first round."

Monfils keeps ATP Finals hopes alive

There is one place to fill at the season-ending ATP Finals, and Monfils is desperate to sustain his run this week to stay in contention.

After a 4-6 6-4 6-1 win against Romanian Radu Albot, the 33-year-old Parisian is on the brink but still not quite there and must see off Shapovalov to earn his ticket to London ahead of Matteo Berrettini.

Given Shapovalov's 6-2 5-7 6-2 win against Alexander Zverev, that could be a tall order for Monfils, whose French compatriot Jeremy Chardy could not boost the home contingent in the final eight, going down 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-6 (8-6) in a nail-biting thriller against Chilean Cristian Garin.

Despite the defeat, Zverev is certain to be involved in the English capital after sealing his spot on Wednesday.

Rafael Nadal edged past Stan Wawrinka at the Paris Masters as he extended his dominance in their career rivalry and moved a step closer to the title that has always eluded him.

There was little between the players, both multiple grand slam winners, but Nadal seized on two of the three break chances he created to snatch a 6-4 6-4 victory.

A 19th win in 22 matches against the Swiss took Nadal nearer a 36th Masters 1000 title and the end-of-year number one ranking.

Curiously, though, the Spaniard has never won the indoor event in Paris, despite being a 12-time French Open champion.

The gritty win over Wawrinka sets up a quarter-final against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who came into this tournament as a wildcard but has been inspired at his home tournament.

French veteran Tsonga has a better record against Nadal than Wawrinka can point to, winning four of their 13 previous meetings.

Nadal said of his win over Wawrinka: "I've been in a match with not many rallies. I played with some mistakes but at the same time I played well with my serve. I was able to be comfortable with my serve.

"On the return, it was difficult today to find opportunities, but the important thing is when I had opportunities I played with the right determination, so I'm very happy. It's an important victory against a very tough opponent."

Assessing the threat posed by Tsonga, who at 34 is a year his senior, US Open champion Nadal told Amazon Prime: "He's a tough one. He's a great player and let's see. I know I'll have to play my best."

Nadal will take over at number one in the rankings next week, whatever happens in Paris, but he will also be assured of top spot come the season's end if he carries off the title.

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