2018 Paris Rolex Masters Day 1: Karen Khachanov, Frances Tiafoe impress as Denis Shapovalov fail to register a win yet again
With just 2 spots left for the ATP Finals in London, the Rolex Paris Masters has gained a lot of steam as the final regular tournament of the ATP calendar. Day 1 of the tournament didn't feature any seeded player but had a few interesting match-ups.
Enjoying a career-best season with 40 wins, 2 titles and a career-high rank of 18, Russian Karen Khachanov defeated Filip Krajinovic from Serbia 7-5, 6-2 after a sluggish start. Khachanov recorded his first ever win at the Paris Masters after saving a set point in the first set. He will play lucky-loser Matthew Ebden in the 2nd round after the Australian came in as a substitute for Kyle Edmund.
Joining Khachanov in continuing a career-best season was Nikoloz Basilashvili from Georgia. The 26-year old Georgian world no. 22 beat an injured John Millman who retired after losing the first set 4-6.
It was a good day for Bosnia and Herzegovina's Damir Dzumhur who earned a 100th career match win with a 6-4, 7-6(5) win over Peter Gojowczyk. He will face Greek NextGen 20-year old Stefanos Tsitsipas in the next round.
During the second match of the day, Roberto Bautista Agut beat Steve Johnson 6-4, 7-6(2) to extend his lead to 6-0 against Johnson.
The first day's play also had three NextGen players grinding to end the year on a high. Of them, American Frances Tiafoe was the lone survivor as he beat French veteran Nicolas Mahut 7-6(1), 6-2 to set up a clash against 4th seeded Alexander Zverev. Zverev leads Tiafoe 2-1 in their H2H but Tiafoe won the most recent clash in 3 sets, at the 2017 Cincinnati Masters.
Alex de Minaur from Australia, the 19-year old who has been rising in the rankings almost every week and is now at 33 (after beginning the year at 208), 2 shy of a career-high 31, lost to Spanish qualifier Feliciano Lopez in the best match of the day. Lopez had 2 match points at 6-7(4), 6-4 and 5-4(40-15) but de Minaur saved both. De Minaur, in turn, earned 2 match points in the deciding set tiebreaker at 6-4 but failed to earn yet another impressive win. Lopez ultimately won 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(6) to set up a 2nd round match-up against 15th seed Diego Schwartzman.
Meanwhile, Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov suffered yet another early loss after beginning the match on a high note, his 4th loss in 5 matches. Playing against Richard Gasquet for the first time, he raced off to a 3-0 lead but squandered it immediately to lose the set 4-6. Gasquet put an exhibition of strong groundstrokes off both wings to register a 6-4, 7-6(3) win. He sets up a 2nd round match-up against defending Jack Sock, who, by the looks of it, is almost certain to suffer a catastrophic fall in the rankings. If Sock doesn't win against Gasquet, he could very well drop out of the top 150 after this week, having started the week at 23 in the rankings.
Day 2 features few of the top seeds like Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic who will begin their campaign and improve the level of tennis after a strong Day 1.