Taylor Fritz stays alive in Race to Turin with winning start at Paris Masters

Taylor Fritz in action Credit: Alamy
Taylor Fritz in action Credit: Alamy

Taylor Fritz kept his hopes of reaching the ATP Tour Finals alive with an opening round win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Fritz downed the Spaniard 7-5, 6-2 in 90 minutes on Court Central to book passage to the Round of 32.

Monaco finalist Davidovich Fokina is an energeic player who never goes down easily and Fritz was relieved to get past him.

“[I’m] really happy, he’s a tough person to play against,” said Fritz after the match. “

He’s got weapons on both sides. He’s extremely quick as well, so there’s nowhere you can really play with a lot of safety.

“He makes a lot of crazy shots and he’s beaten me the past two times, so definitely good to just get out there, play a solid match, and get through it.”

Fritz insists that he isn’t thinking about a potential third round meeting with Felix Auger-Aliassime who is his direct rival for a spot in Turin.

“Right now I’m just focused on kind of playing myself into the tournament,” said Fritz.

“I feel like any time this year that I’ve won a couple of matches into a tournament, then I’ve done well. So I’ll just try to focus on these early rounds.

“Turin is still in the picture, obviously, but there’s not much else I really could have done. I won Tokyo… Felix has played really, really well, so he deserves it, but I am going to try to steal his spot this week for sure.“

Jannik Sinner had just fallen out of the running for Turin but also lost his first round match at the Paris Masters to in-form Swiss Marc-Andrea Huesler.

Huesler had battled through a pair of tough qualifiers against Hugo Gaston and Laslo Djere and carried great serving rythym into the match.

The Swiss qualifier delivered another high-quality performance to take out the 11th seed 6-2, 6-3.

“[It feels] really big,” said Huesler. “I’ve had a great season… I had two good matches in the qualies, I came out here and had nothing to lose today. That helped me play very aggressive. It was not his best match, for sure, but I had to be ready to take that [opportunity]. I just stayed at it, and I’m really happy with the win.”

Huesler snapped a three-match losing streak despite winning his first ATP Tour title in Sofia in early October and being the only man to take a set off eventual champion Auger-Aliassime in Basel last week.

“I think the experience these past weeks helped a lot,” said Huesler.

“Last week I played a tough match against Felix [Auger-Aliassime] in Basel with a full crowd, which was full preparation for here. The centre court here is amazing, it was a lot of fun to play. I just tried to focus on the next point every time, got a bit lucky on some important points and made the right decisions in tight moments, and today I was better.”

Huesler will face a fellow big-server in Karen Khachanov in the second round at the Paris Masters.

“Karen is a big server, for sure,” said Huesler. “I played against him once before in Davis Cup, lost in two sets there. Honestly every guy here is hard to beat, I’m thrilled to play against these guys. I’m here to do my best and I have a lot of confidence in my game. I’m sure the serve is going to be very important for both of us, so let’s see how it goes.”

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