Rafael Nadal is relishing his first last-four chance at the ATP Finals since 2015, though his only regret is fans cannot be in attendance at the O2 Arena.

Nadal booked his semi-final spot with a 6-4 4-6 6-2 triumph over defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in London on Thursday.

The 20-time grand slam champion cruised in the first set but allowed world number six Tsitsipas to hit back in the second, though successive breaks at the start of the decider all but settled the contest.

Nadal has never won the ATP Finals, with this the sixth time the Spanish star has made it to the semis in what is the last occasion the season-ending tournament will be played in London before its move to Turin next year.

While delighted to have sealed his last-four place – with a clash against world number one Novak Djokovic potentially next up – Nadal is disappointed he can not share the moment with fans, with crowds at sporting events in the United Kingdom still banned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"I think I played quite well, for such a long time. That game, 5-4 in the second set, affected me a little bit," Nadal said in his on-court interview.

"I think I was quite comfortable until that moment, after that everything changed a bit, I started to serve a little bit worse but at the end a very positive match for me and for me to be in the semi-finals is another important thing.

"Last year I was a bit unlucky not to be in the semi-finals, the year before I had to pull out.

"It's always difficult to play here, against the best players in the world every single day, at the end of the season. This year is a little bit different.

"Sad for the situation, normally after this good match the atmosphere would be fantastic as always. It's a different story.

"It's sad to say goodbye to this amazing place, but it's what we are facing around the world so I'm just excited to be in the semi-finals and hope to be ready to try my best."

Nadal – an ATP Finals runner-up in 2010 and 2013 – also conceded that, with England currently in a state of nation-wide lockdown, he has found it harder to fill his time while not on the court.

"We can't complain at all, we are very lucky to be practicing our sport in very difficult conditions so we can't complain," the 34-year-old added.

"At the same time, it's a bit more boring than usual, with no chance to go out for dinner, so days in the middle are a bit longer, but I'm happy to have a good team around me, I'm trying to stay organised, stay impassioned."

Nadal joins US Open champion Dominic Thiem, last year's beaten finalist, in the semi-finals.

Rafael Nadal survived a fightback from Stefanos Tsitsipas to secure his spot in the last four of the ATP Finals at the expense of the defending champion. 

Searching for his first triumph in the season-ending competition, Nadal was made to work for his sixth career win over the world number six, eventually triumphing 6-4 4-6 6-2 at London's O2 Arena. 

With Dominic Thiem – who Tsitsipas defeated in last year's final – having already qualified, Thursday's clash was a battle to see who else would progress from the group. 

Nadal, who has now won 71 successive matches in which he has gone a set ahead, cruised in the opener - dropping just five points on his serve - and despite a comeback in the second, Tsitsipas' count of 21 unforced errors effectively ended his hopes.

Nadal failed to take the first two break points on offer in the contest, though a pair of unforced Tsitsipas errors nosed the Spaniard ahead. 

The set was wrapped up six minutes later thanks to successive aces, and the pressure was back on Tsitsipas at the start of set two, though he escaped with a brilliant cross-court backhand. 

Having only lost five points on his serve in the opener, Nadal cruised in the next game, though his opponent continued to hold and, at 5-4, finally created an opportunity.

A superb backhand pass and an excellent dink from the net put him 30-0 up and while Nadal hit back, a risky drop shot earned Tsitsipas two set points. 

However, Tsitsipas undid his hard work at the start of the decider, handing Nadal a break back with three unforced errors. 

Nadal seemed to be cruising in the second game only for Tsitsipas to hit back, the world number two going long with a lob before then finding the net. 

Tsitsipas once again failed to make the most of his opportunity, though, and a fourth successive break followed as Nadal reclaimed the advantage – a lead he would not relinquish. 

Despite dropping the next two points, he clinched the first hold of the decider 19 minutes into the set before more unforced Tsitsipas errors allowed the French Open champion to seal victory at the second time of asking.


WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Nadal - 29/12
Tsitsipas - 24/21

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Nadal - 8/1
Tsitsipas - 8/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Nadal - 4/8
Tsitsipas - 2/3

Stefanos Tsitsipas stayed in the hunt for more ATP Finals glory by fending off Andrey Rublev in a gripping match at London's O2 Arena, with Rafael Nadal keeping a close eye.

Defending champion Tsitsipas landed a 6-1 4-6 7-6 (8-6) victory, and that was good news for Dominic Thiem whose place in the semi-finals was guaranteed by the outcome on Tuesday.

Rublev can no longer reach the final four, and it will come down to a clash on Thursday evening between Tsitsipas and Nadal to determine who joins Thiem in advancing from the London 2020 group.

Nadal was at courtside to check out his next opponent, and Tsitsipas looked in deep trouble when he faced match point in the deciding tie-break - only for Rublev to double-fault.

Both men came into this match on the back of defeats on Sunday, Tsitsipas edged out in a decider by Thiem while Rublev was beaten in straight sets by Nadal, who then lost to Thiem in a stunning contest on Tuesday afternoon.

This season has seen Rublev win five ATP titles, more than anyone else on tour, but his breakthrough at grand slam and Masters 1000 level has yet to come.

The same can be said for Tsitsipas; however, the Greek triumphed at this tournament last season to take a significant career step.

After Tsitsipas swept through the opening set with little resistance, Rublev stepped it up for the second and nine consecutive games went with serve.

It was a surprise when Rublev broke to level the match, a string of unforeseen errors from Tsitsipas giving up three set points. Rublev required just one, yelling "Come on!" as his opponent sent a forehand long.

Rublev then saved five break points in winning a dramatic third game of the decider, before the tie-break threw up plenty of drama. Tsitsipas had the match in his hands with two serves at 5-4 in the tie-break, but he lost both points and Rublev then blundered when serving at match point.

When Tsitsipas carved out his own match point, a forehand into the net from Rublev settled the outcome.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Tsitsipas: 24/16
Rublev:  26/32

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Tsitsipas: 10/0
Rublev:  6/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Tsitsipas: 2/9
Rublev: 1/1

Novak Djokovic avoided defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and third seed Dominic Thiem, who were both drawn alongside Rafael Nadal for the ATP Finals.

World number one Djokovic, who will be aiming to win the trophy for a record-equalling sixth time, will take on Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman in Group Tokyo 1970.

The Serbian heads to London on the back of just his third defeat of the season – one of which was his default at the US Open – in the quarter-finals of the Vienna Open to Lorenzo Sonego.

Zverev won the title in 2018, while Medvedev is returning after his ATP Finals debut last year and Schwartzman has reached the event for the first time.

Nadal has qualified for the year-ending competition for a record 16th straight year but faces a tricky task in Group London 2020 alongside Thiem, Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.

Tsitsipas lost to Nadal in the group stage but beat Thiem in the final to win the competition last year, though the Austrian will hope to go one better after making his major breakthrough by going all the way at the US Open.

Like Schwartzman, Rublev is competing at the tournament for the first time.

The ATP Finals, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, is scheduled to begin on Sunday.

Stefanos Tsitsipas saw his interest in the Paris Masters ended at the earliest opportunity in a second-round defeat to Ugo Humbert after three tie-breaks on Tuesday.

Second seed Tsitsipas had a bye through the first round before starting his run against Humbert, but a 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (6-8) 7-6 (7-3) reverse means the Greek can already turn his attention towards defending his ATP Finals title.

A topsy-turvy affair was ultimately settled in Humbert's favour, although the 22-year-old looked to have ceded the initiative late in the second set.

Having battled back from a break down to take the opener, Humbert squandered three match points in the second tie-break in a remarkable collapse.

But the world number 34 - enjoying a fine year with breakthrough titles in Auckland and Antwerp - steadied himself again at the start of the decider.

Humbert once more let a lead slip but this time recovered to see out yet another breaker and claim his second career top-10 win before hailing his own mental fortitude after a marathon match lasting three hours and 17 minutes.

"I'm super happy, super proud of myself," he said. "I was mentally very strong to win this match against Tsitsipas, one of the best players in the world."

Tsitsipas added: "His serve was very consistent. Despite having opportunities where he would serve second serves [and] I could come in, be more aggressive, it didn't seem as easy as I had it planned in my head."

Humbert was one of four Frenchmen to win on Tuesday, although fellow home hopefuls Gilles Simon and Corentin Moutet exited the tournament, the latter's positive COVID-19 test granting Marin Cilic - Humbert's next opponent - a walkover.

Tsitsipas' loss came after the departure of eighth seed David Goffin, beaten in straight sets by Norbert Gombos.

Kevin Anderson advanced to face Daniil Medvedev after Laslo Djere retired, while John Millman failed to build on his first ATP Tour title win in Astana as he lost to Miomir Kecmanovic.

Grigor Dimitrov ended third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas' Vienna Open hopes with a battling last-16 win on Thursday.

Tsitsipas, who took Novak Djokovic to five sets in the French Open semi-finals this month, had come from behind to beat Jan-Lennard Struff in his opener in Austria but was this time on the wrong end of a fightback.

The Greek edged the first set after a tie-break but failed to convert either of his break points in a 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 6-3 reverse.

It was Dimitrov who prevailed after two hours and 14 minutes for his first top-10 win of the season, securing a quarter-final against Dan Evans.

"It's never easy to come out of a situation like that," Dimitrov said. "I was focused, but he went for it.

"In the tie-break a few close calls here and there went his way. [There was] not much else I could have done, I felt. But I kept on believing and kept on doing the right things.

"I stayed in the match, which I think was the most important thing. He's such a great competitor. You always have to be ready. I was just focusing on the most simple things of the game."

The other seeds found life a little easier on Thursday, with Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev each through to face one another.

Reigning champion Thiem brushed aside Cristian Garin in straight sets, while Rublev was granted a walkover as Jannik Sinner succumbed to a foot injury early in their meeting.

Daniil Medvedev also advanced but needed three sets after dropping the first to Vasek Pospisil.

Djokovic was not in action, meanwhile, but learned the identity of his Friday quarter-final opponent as Lorenzo Sonego reached the last eight.

Novak Djokovic will almost certainly finish the year at the top of the ATP world rankings for a joint-record sixth time after he claimed a hard-fought win over Borna Coric at the Vienna Open. 

Djokovic needed to win just two matches in Austria to guarantee he will end the year as world number one, unless Rafael Nadal takes up an unlikely wildcard for the Sofia Open. 

After defeating Filip Krajinovic in the first round, Djokovic took a vital step towards cementing his name in the record books with a 7-6 (13-11) 6-3 victory over Coric on Wednesday. 

Pete Sampras is the only previous player to have claimed the year-end number one spot on six occasions, doing so between 1993 and 1998. 

Djokovic is tied with fellow modern greats Rodger Federer and Nadal, who the Serbian lost to in the French Open earlier in October, and Jimmy Connors, but is now set to nose ahead of his rivals, having previously secured top spot in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018. 

His latest win did not come easy, though, with the 33-year-old made to work by world number 24 Coric. 

The pair traded blows in an epic opening set which lasted just under two hours – Djokovic eventually coming out on top in a thrilling tie-break after Coric dropped serve for a third time. 

A first break in set two handed Djokovic the advantage and he then held his nerve to take the eighth game with some wonderful shots in an exhilarating rally, making it 5-3. 

Djokovic's sublime volley close to the net set the tone in the next game and while Coric saved two match points, it was only a case of delaying the inevitable.

Earlier, Stefanos Tsitsipas opted to switch his shoe in the third set of his match with Jan-Lennard Struff, though the third seed ultimately came through the contest to tee up a tie with Grigor Dimitrov. 

With the third set tied at 1-1, Nitto ATP Finals champion Tsitsipas changed his footwear and subsequently broke serve, going on to record a 6-7 (7-3) 6-3 6-4 triumph. 

Daniil Medvedev, meanwhile, is enjoying the hospitality in Austria as he eased past Jason Jung 6-3 6-1 in his first-round match. 

"It's great. The hotel is good, the food is amazing, maybe the best of the year," said the world number six. 

"These small things make tennis players happy all the time. The most important is to play good on the tennis court, so the organisation is very good."

Novak Djokovic is relishing what he believes could be the biggest challenge in sport of facing his "greatest rival" Rafael Nadal in the French Open final on Sunday.

Top seed Djokovic overcame a Stefanos Tsitsipas fightback to win the second semi-final 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 at Roland Garros on Friday after Nadal beat Diego Schwartzman in straight sets.

The world number one will do battle with 12-time French Open champion Nadal in a mouth-watering clash of the titans on Court Philippe-Chatrier this weekend.

Djokovic has won 29 of the 55 meetings between two of the all-time greats, while the Serb and Robin Soderling are the only players to have beaten the Spaniard in the Paris grand slam.

Nadal has never lost a final at a major he has dominated, and Djokovic is well aware of the size of the challenge he will face when he attempts to deny the 'King of Clay' a record-equalling 20th grand slam triumph.

Djokovic, a winner of 17 majors but only one at Roland Garros in 2016, said in his on-court interview: "It's his [Nadal's] home. And with all the titles he's won. But I remember I beat him in the quarter-finals in 2015.

"I hope to recover. It's the biggest challenge, perhaps in sport, to play Nadal here at Roland Garros but I am motivated to win."

Asked to elaborate on those comments in his news conference, Djokovic replied: "Well, isn't it obvious? He won this tournament so many times that I don't think any player has won that many times any tournament.

"He's lost twice in his entire career on this court. Obviously the conditions are different than the ones that we are used to playing in May and June. I think that could be a better chance for me, obviously the ball not bouncing as high over the shoulder as he likes it usually.

"Regardless of the conditions, he's still there, he's Rafa, he's in the final and we're playing on clay. Best-of-five playing him in the finals at Roland Garros, I know that feeling. I did lose to him on this court most of the matches that we played, but I also won one match in 2015 in straight sets in quarters.

"That's the match that I'll look back at and obviously try to take some positives out of it and use it tactically against him. I'm not feeling exhausted physically so much after tonight's match, obviously almost four hours. It was a great battle.

"But I feel fine. I think a day and a half will be plenty of time for me to recover. I'm really looking forward to a great battle with Rafa."

Djokovic added: "I've played him more than I played any other player in my professional career. I think our head-to-head is the biggest head-to-head ever in the history of the sport.

"He's definitely my greatest rival. Playing him in so many great matches, of course the past will have some effect in terms of respect towards each other, I guess motivation to get out on the court and play your best, knowing that we both have to be at our best in order to win against each other.

"So I think that's where the past will play its offensive line. Not more than that, to be honest, because I think we are both experienced enough to really approach matches like this focusing only what is ahead of us."

Novak Djokovic will face Rafael Nadal in Sunday's French Open final after battling past Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets.

With the upper-body issues that hampered his quarter-final win over Pablo Carreno Busta apparently behind him, the world number one still had to dig deep in Friday's semi-final to see off Tsitsipas, who had won 27 matches this year and had looked imperious against Andrey Rublev in the previous round.

Tsitsipas rallied from match point down in the third set to force Djokovic to go the distance in his quest to reach a first grand slam final, but the 17-time major winner wrestled momentum back to claim a 6-3 6-2 5-7 4-6 6-1 victory.

The 33-year-old, who is 216-1 in grand slam matches after winning the first two sets, eventually completed the job after three hours and 54 minutes as he set up a meeting with old foe Nadal in what will be his 27th major final.

Djokovic saved four break points in the opening game before moving 4-1 ahead and again held off a stern challenge on serve to make it 5-2 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

The 2016 champion's drop shot appeared on point, with two more in game nine helping him close out the opening set despite one or two loose groundstrokes.

Tsitsipas was arguably playing the better tennis by the early stages of the second set, but it was Djokovic who was producing the goods at the key points. Some remarkable defensive work and a brilliant cross-court backhand winner saw him set up just his second break point after trailing 0-40, and he took it when Tsitsipas skied a forehand after a net cord.

He consolidated to move 4-2 ahead and got the double break when Tsitsipas swung a forehand into the tramlines, serving out the set with back-to-back aces to assume control of the match.

Djokovic had match point on serve at 5-4 in the third but Tsitsipas suddenly struck back, at last getting a break of his own and then snatching the set with a ferocious forehand that clipped the baseline.

By now, it was Tsitsipas who was under siege on serve and Djokovic who could not make the breakthrough. He saw 10 break points come and go before sending a drop shot into the net at set point down as the contest entered an unlikely decider.

Djokovic at last broke the resistance early in the fifth, a dead-eyed drop shot and then a strangely errant service game from Tsitsipas giving the Serbian a double break. A third match point proved enough for the number one seed, a downcast Tsitsipas watching a second serve slapped beyond his reach.

Novak Djokovic was wary of revealing the full extent of his neck and shoulder injuries ahead of a French Open semi-final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

World number one Djokovic reached the last four at Roland Garros on Wednesday after recovering from a set down to beat Pablo Carreno-Busta 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-4.

Djokovic was clearly hampered by fitness concerns, however, wearing tape on his neck, repeatedly stretching out his left arm and then receiving treatment in Paris midweek.

"I definitely didn't feel great coming into the court today. A few things happened in the warm-up," Djokovic explained afterwards.

"I had to deal with those physical issues coming onto the court. As the match went on, I felt better and didn't feel as much pain."

The Australian Open champion was pressed for further detail but, with his title tilt continuing, additional information remained scarce.

"I had some neck issues and some shoulder issues. I'll just say that," he said. "I don't want to get really too much into it.

"Obviously I'm still in the tournament, so I don't want to reveal too much.

"I'm feeling okay. I think as the match progressed, I warmed up by body and the pain kind of faded away. It allowed me to play better and better and feel better."

Victory was particularly sweet as it came against Carreno-Busta, Djokovic's opponent when he was defaulted from the US Open last month for striking a line judge with the ball.

It was put to the 33-year-old Serbian that match – his only defeat in 2020 – might have contributed to the slow start against Carreno-Busta, but he insisted the injuries were the sole cause.

"No, no, it wasn't that at all. It was something else," Djokovic said. "I actually just mentioned what was the issue. I had to deal with that.

"I told you guys many times I'm over it. I'm not thinking about it at all. I mean, zero per cent."

Stefanos Tsitsipas made a statement of intent by propelling himself into the French Open semi-finals with a straight-sets dispatching of Andrey Rublev.

World number six Tsitsipas, who will face top seed Novak Djokovic or Pablo Carreno Busta on Friday, made light work of his Russian opponent, taking just under two hours to win 7-5 6-2 6-3. 

It puts the Greek – the first player from his nation to make it this far in Paris – into his second career grand slam semi-final, following his run to the last four in the Australian Open in 2019.

The 22-year-old, who claimed 43 points on his first serve, won 16 of the final 21 games to thwart any comeback hopes for Rublev.

"I have been feeling really comfortable playing on this court," Tsitsipas told a limited number of spectators on Court Philippe-Chatrier after his triumph. "Despite not having a good start and being a break down, I remembered what a big fighter I am. It's about fighting and trying to find solutions in difficult moments."

Tsitsipas conceded the first break in an intense opener, with Rublev striking to go 3-2 up, but the 13th seed could not hold his nerve when serving for the set and an overhit forehand handed the ATP Finals champion a reprieve.

Another sloppy Rublev forehand gifted Tsitsipas the first set, and several unforced errors from the Russian followed in the second as the fifth seed upped the pressure.

A wonderful drop-shot gave Tsitsipas a first match point on Rublev's serve, though he failed to convert it.

Yet victory was assured in the next game, with Tsitsipas rounding off a supreme display with a clinical forehand volley.

Data Slam: Tsitsipas on a roll at Roland Garros

After dropping his first two in this year's tournament, against Jaume Munar in round one, Tsitsipas has now won 15 successive sets at Roland Garros, and he will now attempt to become the first man from Greece to reach a grand slam final.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Rublev – 25/23
Tsitsipas – 35/17

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Rublev – 7/0
Tsitsipas – 7/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Rublev – 1/3
Tsitsipas – 5/8

Novak Djokovic had few scares in his fourth-round win over Karen Khachanov at the French Open, though there was one "awkward situation" that left him with a sense of deja vu.

Djokovic eased into his 14th Roland Garros quarter-final with a 6-4 6-3 6-3 win on Court Philippe Chatrier on Monday.

An entertaining but largely uneventful encounter was marked by a moment of drama as Djokovic accidentally hit a line judge with an errant shot.

The world number one, defaulted from the US Open for striking a line judge with a ball after dropping serve at Flushing Meadows, was in no danger of disqualification this time around, though Djokovic conceded the moment left him briefly feeling uneasy.

He will meet Pablo Carreno Busta in a rematch of that US Open clash following the Spaniard's 6-2 7-5 6-2 win over Daniel Altmaier.

Meanwhile there were wins for Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.


DEJA VU FOR DJOKOVIC

Djokovic skipped his press commitments in the wake of his infamous incident at Flushing Meadows.

However, he was more than happy to face the media after history repeated itself in more innocuous fashion, and he praised the line judge in question for their response to the accident.

"My gosh, it was very awkward deja vu," Djokovic said. "I'm actually trying to find the lines person and see if he's okay because I saw he had a little bit of a bruise, like redness, in that place in the head where the ball hit him. 

"I hope he's fine. I mean, he definitely dealt with it in a very strong and brave way. But it was a hit because I was very close.

"Obviously because of what happened in New York, people I guess are going to make the story out of this.

"It has happened to me and to many other players in the last 15 years that I've been on the tour. I've seen it a lot when the ball ricochets from the racquet and the frame, hits someone in the stands, or someone that is close to you or line umpire.

"It was a very awkward situation obviously."

RUBLEV HAILS 'REALLY IMPORTANT' WIN

Rublev had to fight extremely hard to see off Marton Fucsovics, conqueror of his Russian compatriot Daniil Medvedev in the first round.

The 13th seed was a break down in each of the first three sets, losing the opener on a tie-break before coming back to prevail 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

Asked if he could enjoy a match where he was almost always having to claw back a deficit, he replied: "I think I start to enjoy more when it was one set all.

"When he broke me and I broke him back. When the games was three-all, when I broke him, when he broke me back, from that time I start to enjoy more.

"In general, I think we showed great level. These kind of matches are really important. You understand why you are working, why you're giving everything every day in practices."

TSITSIPAS EYES REVENGE

Next up for Rublev will be fifth speed Tsitsipas, who lost to the Russian in the final in Hamburg prior to travelling to Paris.

The Greek overcame Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 7-6 (11-9) 6-2 to set up a rematch with Rublev in the last eight.

And he knows he will have to improve if he is to alter the outcome from their previous encounter.

"Andrey, we grew up playing together. He has improved a lot. We've played each other many times. I think he has a positive record against me," Tsitsipas said.

"It is very important for me to take this opportunity and fight harder this time, maybe do something better.

"He's a very challenging player to play against. I think he for sure brings the best out of me when I step out on the court to play against him."

Stefanos Tsitsipas claimed his 25th win of the year to progress to the last 16 of the French Open.

The fifth seed became the first Greek player to reach this stage at Roland Garros on multiple occasions after overcoming Aljaz Bedene.

Tsitsipas and Grigor Dimitrov will meet for the first time in the fourth round, with each having had curtailed time on court on Saturday as their respective opponents retired.

Marton Fucsovics set up a showdown with in-form Andrey Rublev, but the day arguably belonged to Daniel Altmaier, whose remarkable run continues after he dispatched world number eight Matteo Berrettini.

 

TSITSIPAS READY FOR REAL TEST

Tsitsipas barely broke sweat as he advanced to the last 16, with Bedene retiring with a foot problem in the third set.

The pair had only been on court for 80 minutes, Tsitsipas having taken a commanding 6-1 6-2 3-1 lead against the clearly hampered Slovenian.

While the match inevitably lost a level of intrigue, the same cannot be said for Tsitsipas at these finals. The 22-year-old, whose personalised face masks have been a hit at the championships, has also made a point of keeping his media duties interesting.

Perhaps that comes in part from the young Tsitsipas' journalistic background. "I was a journalist when I was 11, 12 years old. I had this Facebook page, which I very often updated with news about Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic," he explained.

"I was really into it. Every day after school I would check the results, check the current, latest tennis news. I would update it. It was a lot of fun, I enjoyed doing it.

"Journalism and press and media, I love this a lot. I do understand how it operates, how it works. So for me, you know, I'm a tennis player, and if something works, I'm on the court the next day  trying to do the same thing. For me sometimes there isn't really much for me to say tactical-wise or match-wise because I'm just trying to follow the things that have been working for me."

Tsitsipas will now meet Dimitrov, who had even less time on court against Roberto Carballes, the Spaniard retiring at 1-6 3-6 down with a little over an hour played.

It is the first time Dimitrov, a semi-finalist at each of the other majors in his career, has reached the second week in Paris.

ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?

Altmaier produced the finest two hours and 15 minutes of his career as he defeated Berrettini, a semi-finalist at last year's US Open, in straight sets.

The seventh seed lost 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 to the German qualifier, who is ranked 186th in the world and nearly did not compete in Paris due to injury.

"My coach and I have been working so hard to be here, and while I've struggled with a few injuries, I am super-pleased it’s at Roland Garros," said Altmaier, who is just the fifth qualifier since 2000 to reach the last 16 of a men's slam.

"Before qualifying, I was struggling with an injury, so I wasn't sure I was going to play. I hope the crowd and the TV audience enjoyed watching, as I want to entertain."

Next up for Altmaier will be Pablo Carreno Busta – himself a US Open semi-finalist just three weeks ago – after he beat compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 6-3 5-7 6-4 in three hours and 22 minutes.

FUCSOVICS READY FOR RUBLEV

Rublev's winning streak stretched to eight matches as he made light work of big-serving Kevin Anderson, winning 6-3 6-2 6-3 in just 94 minutes.

Anderson, the former world number five, hit 33 unforced errors and won just four points on Rublev's first serve as he fell to the Russian.

Rublev will now face Fucsovics, who beat Brazil's Thiago Monteiro 7-5 6-1 6-3. It will be their first meeting since the 2017 Davis Cup, when Fucsovics fought from two sets down to help Hungary to a 3-1 victory.

"We were different players," said Fucsovics. "Right now he's just about to break in the top 10. I got more matured. I have more experience. I'm fit now, fitter than ever. I'm looking forward to playing a good match against him, try to break through finally to the quarter-finals."

Novak Djokovic set his sights on French Open glory after thrashing Mikael Ymer in the first round on Tuesday.

The Serbian, seeking to put his US Open disqualification firmly behind him, made an early statement of intent with a 6-0 6-2 6-3 victory on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

It took Djokovic one hour, 38 minutes to get the job done, with Ricardas Berankis awaiting in the second round.

And the world number one is determined to chase down a second crown at Roland Garros, having triumphed in 2016.

"I'm ready physically, mentally, emotionally to go deep in the tournament," said Djokovic.

"Hopefully I can have another successful year here in Paris. 2016 was a dream come true.

"Obviously the only French Open title I have won in my career, and it was a very long anticipated title."

 

TSITSIPAS AND RUBLEV, UNITED AGAIN BY FIVE-SETTERS

Two days after they went head to head in the Hamburg European Open final, Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas were back in action in Paris.

And both at one stage looked in serious danger of first-round exits, with their efforts of the past week in Germany seemingly catching up on the seeded pair.

Rublev, who got the better of Tsitsipas in Hamburg, trailed Sam Querrey by two sets on Tuesday. Tsitsipas also slumped two sets behind in his clash with Spain's Jaume Munar.

But both staged spectacular fightbacks, with Russian 13th seed Rublev edging out American Querrey 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 6-4 6-3 and Greek fifth seed Tsitsipas prevailing 4-6 2-6 6-1 6-4 6-4.

"Although I started well, I was kind of switched off again later during the first set," Tsitsipas said. "Whatever I was trying to do, most of my shots were landing out and nothing was going my way.

"It was crazy what was happening out there, and I couldn't find any solutions. I feel like I was just turning down the hill, and I'm happy that I took my time.

"I started thinking a little bit more. Started figuring out why I was rushing so much and why I was going for extreme things. After a bit of processing and thinking, I think that helped settle things down and have a fresh new start of the match."

Rublev accepted his display against Querrey was dismal, saying: "I was feeling completely tight. I choke another level. From the first point of the match till the last match of the match I was completely frozen. I couldn't do one step, I could only hit, I was tight like I don't know."

 

BERRETTINI FEELING OLD...AT 24!

Matteo Berrettini breezed past Vasek Pospisil 6-3 6-1 6-3 before railing against the relentless march of time.

At just 24, the Italian is already feeling like a veteran after seeing the impressive exploits of compatriots Jannik Sinner and Lorenzo Musetti, who are both teenagers.

"Now it's crazy. Until last year I was the young one," exclaimed Berrettini, who faces Lloyd Harris in round two.

"Now these two are with big steps stepping in. I mean, my career is completely different compared to theirs. They started really young.

"This is my third Roland Garros, and I'm 24. Probably them at 24, they would have played already maybe six Roland Garros. It's definitely different."

 

GASQUET AND SIMON LEAD FRENCH CASUALTIES

Canadian ninth seed Denis Shapovalov was tested by experienced Frenchman Gilles Simon but won through 6-2 7-5 5-7 6-3, while 18th-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov drubbed another Frenchman in Gregoire Barrere, landing a 6-3 6-2 6-2 win.

Roberto Bautista Agut added to the French misery, sinking fellow veteran Richard Gasquet 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 6-1, and lesser-known players also exited their home grand slam as Ugo Humbert, Quentin Halys and Harold Mayot also bowed out.

Andrey Rublev heads to Roland Garros with a third title of the season secured after Stefanos Tsitsipas let victory slip from his grasp at the Hamburg European Open.

As the French Open began, Rublev and Tsitsipas were almost 600 miles away in northern Germany, duking it out for ATP Tour silverware.

Both will arrive in the French capital after a string of fine clay-court results; however, Rublev will be the happier man after a 6-4 3-6 7-5 success in the final saw him pocket the €79,330 winner's cheque.

Rublev pouched trophies at the start of the year in Qatar and Adelaide, and only Novak Djokovic has won more matches on the tour this season than the 22-year-old Russian's haul of 25 victories.

After they split the opening two sets, It seemed a sure thing that Greek world number six Tsitsipas would wrap up the title after surging to a 5-3 lead in the decider.

However, he could not get across the line, with Rublev landing his first title at ATP 500 level by reeling off four successive games.

Tsitsipas was seeking his second title of 2020, having won in Marseille in February, but his win-loss record in ATP finals now stands at 5-7, with his inability to close out this match posing questions about his prospects of competing deep into the coming fortnight in Paris.

Rublev has only played the French Open once, losing in the first round three years ago. He faces an opener against American Sam Querrey, while Tsitsipas starts against Spain's Jaume Munar.

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