Paris, Nov 2 (IANS) Spanish tennis ace Rafael Nadal secured a year-end top position in the ATP rankings following his victory over South Korean talent Chung Hyeon in the second round of the Paris Masters, while promising German star Alexander Zverev was stunned by Dutchman Robin Haase.
The 31-year-old Nadal has become the oldest and first year-end No.1 over the age of 30 since the ATP Rankings were established in 1973, reports Xinhua news agency.
This is his fourth time to be crowned world No.1 at the end of the season, after 2008, 2010 and 2013.
“I’m very, very happy for everything,” Nadal told the crowd in an on-court interview here on Wednesday.
“It has been an amazing year. One year ago, for sure I never dreamed about being world No.1 again at the end of the season. It’s something that means a lot to me.”
Nadal emphasized that “the season is not over.”
“Here in Paris, the most important city in my career without doubt, I’m just looking forward to getting to the point,” he said.
After both sides held their serves in the first two games, Chung broke for the first time throughout the match, before Nadal made a strong comeback to nail four games in a row.
Chung showed his resistance and tied it at 5-all. Then Nadal regrouped himself and took away the first set at 7-5 with a big forehand.
The second set was in balance after seven games, before Nadal, in search for his career 31st ATP Masters 1000 titles, made a crucial break in the eighth game, and converted his second match point in the ninth at 6-3.
Nadal will next face Pablo Cuevas, as the Uruguayan saw off Nadal’s compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-7 (5), 7-6 (1), 6-2.
“Tomorrow there will be a tough opponent. Pablo is always a tough one. I need to play well, but as I say, I hope to be ready to make that happen,” Nadal remarked.
Zverev, who has won two ATP Masters 1000 titles this season as Nadal did, recorded a comfortable 6-3 win in the first set.
However, the 20-year-old German failed to prevent his Dutch opponent Robin Haase from winning 78 percent on service points, and the match turned around at 6-2, 6-2 at the expense of Zverev, who will prepare for his maiden appearance at November’s ATP Finals in London.
Marin Cilic and Grigor Dimitrov, who also secured their places in ATP Finals, both came through their opening matches in Paris.
Juan Martin del Potro, the 13th seed, continued his hopes of catching up with the ATP Finals with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Joao Sousa, joined by David Goffin and Lucas Pouille in the round of 16.
Del Potro needed just an hour and two minutes on Wednesday evening to earn his third career win over Sousa in as many matches, reports Efe news agency.
Sousa was broken four times throughout the contest and struggled in particular when missing his first serve, winning just three of 18 second-serve points.
The former world No.4 handily won the first set after racing out to a 4-0 lead and then continued that momentum into the second set, earning a routine victory that boosts his hopes of qualifying for this month’s ATP Finals in London, tennis’ elite year-end event.
The Argentine will now take on the Netherlands’ Robin Haase, who upset fourth-seeded German Alexander Zverev 3-6, 6-2, 6-2.
Frenchman Julien Benneteau, meanwhile, pulled off a 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 upset of 11th-seeded compatriot and 2008 champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, whose game went south after he lost the second set.
Benneteau will square off in the round of 16 against either compatriot Adrian Mannarino or seventh-seeded Belgian David Goffin.
But it was a disappointing day for South Africa’s Kevin Anderson and home favourite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, as the two contenders for ATP Finals berths were knocked out from the tournament.
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