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PREVIEW: 2023 ATP Tour – Paris Masters – Selected Round of 32 and Round of 16 Matches

Damien Kayat previews Holger Rune vs Dominic Thiem and Roman Safiullin vs Karen Khachanov in Selected Round of 32 and Round of 16 Matches of the Paris Masters on the 1st and 2nd of November 2023.

Roman Safiullin of Russia

Damien Kayat previews Holger Rune vs Dominic Thiem and Roman Safiullin vs Karen Khachanov in Selected Round of 32 and Round of 16 Matches of the Paris Masters on the 1st and 2nd of November 2023.

Jamie Moore's Diary - jockey talks Goshen and Ascot rides

2023 ATP Tour
Masters 1000
Paris Masters
AccorHotels Arena, Paris, France (Indoor Hardcourt)
Selected Round of 32 and Round of 16 Matches: 1st & 2nd November

Round of 32 – November 1

Holger Rune 53/100 | Dominic Thiem 29/20

Defending Paris-Bercy champion Holger Rune finally rediscovered some form in last week’s Swiss Indoors, reaching the semi-finals under new coach Boris Becker to consolidate his 8th position in the Race to Turin standings.

But the manner of his semi-final defeat to Felix Auger-Aliassime was rather disconcerting (the top seed could only register five games against the out-of-form Canadian). Rune’s recent fluctuations in form and fitness puts his place at the season-ending ATP Finals in real jeopardy this week.

But perhaps a return to this arena will galvanize the uber-talented Dane. He sparkled in Paris last year, coming back from a set down to beat Djokovic in the final to cap off a glittering indoor period. He won in Munich earlier this season and picked up runner-up finishes in Monte-Carlo and Rome.

He has also reached two Grand Slam quarterfinals this year and he will be looking to draw on some of those memories as he locks horns with former US Open champion Dominic Thiem.

Sure, 30-year-old Austrian Dominic Thiem is hardly in the type of form that propelled him to the US Open title in 2020 (and a further three Grand Slam finals). A shocking sequence of injuries have limited his chances of performing at his optimum level.

Still, his first-round victory over Stan Wawrinka did provide us some glimpses of his best tennis. Wawrinka held a match-point on his own serve in the 3rd set only for Thiem to produce some of the best tennis I have seen from him in ages. His heavy forehands forced Wawrinka into submission and he also showed a remarkably deft touch at the net.

It was all the more impressive given the fact that he had to trudge his way through qualifying this week. Thiem was an exceptional indoor player in his prime, finishing runner-up at the O2 Arena in 2019 and 2020. He will be look to exploit Rune’s tenuous hold on an ATP Finals spot this week.

Verdict: Rune to win in three at 11/4

This will be just their 2nd meeting, with Rune emerging a comfortable victor when they met in Monte-Carlo this year. But that was the period of the year where Rune was absolutely flying. I think Thiem has a legitimate chance of scoring an upset here.

He hit some wondrous forehands against Wawrinka and Rune is obviously fretting over his ATP Finals place. Still, I’m slightly concerned about the fact that Thiem has spent so much time on court this week. This could give Rune the edge in a three-set thriller.

Round of 16 – November 2

Roman Safiullin 12/10 | Karen Khachanov 64/100

It’s nice to know that this wonderful sport still has the capacity to surprise me. Roman Safiullin’s straight-sets victory over tennis wunderkind Carlos Alcaraz has to go down as the shocks of the entire tennis calendar (men or women). Sure, Alcaraz hasn’t quite been himself of late due to a few injury concerns.

But he still should have had far too much for the plucky Russian. Playing without a sponsor’s logo, Safiullin’s win over the in-demand Spaniard almost feels like a victory for the ‘little man’. The Russian defended the corners brilliantly and managed to win 10 of 12 points when he came to the net.

In reality, this performance was really a continuum of some brilliant late-season development for the Russian. He has now reached the 3rd round in four of the last five Masters 1000 events. He produced an unheralded run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals and he recently reached his first final in Chengdu. He is a metronomic baseliner who plays smart, percentage tennis. How far can the refreshingly ‘unhip’ Safiullin go this week?

This has proven to be a frustrating- yet rewarding- season for 27-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov. He started the year as he left off the last, reaching the semi-final of the Aussie Open to follow up his semi-final run at Flushing Meadows.

The Russian had really started to establish himself as one of the preeminent hardcourt players in world tennis. He further underlined these credentials with an excellent semi-final run at Indian Wells. He then returned to the top 10 in the world rankings courtesy of a quarterfinal run at the French Open.

But his uninterrupted rise in the rankings was put on ice by a partial stress fracture in his sacrum bone, forcing him to miss Wimbledon and lose any momentum going into the Norh American hardcourt season (he ultimately lost to Michale Mmoh in the first round of the US Open).

He regained some confidence at the Zhuhai Championships, winning his first title in five years to reenergize a flagging campaign. He pushed compatriot Medvedev to three sets in last week’s Vienna Open and this week he returns to the sight of his breakthrough triumph in 2018, where he became the lowest-ranked player since Liubicic in 2010 to win a Masters 1000 title.

He has won both his matches in straight-sets this week, indicating that he could be ready to potentially emulate that glorious 2018 run.

Verdict: Khachanov to win in straight-sets

Khachanov eased past Safiullin in last week’s Vienna Open and there’s no reason to expect any different this week. Alcaraz looked desperately out of touch and tried to hit his way out of trouble.

Khachanov is far more patient and he won’t be stressed by engaging in extended baseline exchanges. He just hits the ball with far more venom than his compatriot and he also happens to be one of the fittest player on the entire circuit.

Jamie Moore's Diary - jockey talks Goshen and Ascot rides

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