French Open: Djokovic vs Tsitsipas match preview
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Stefanos Tsitsipas was forced to retire for the first time in his career while down a break in his opening match at the Paris Masters 1000. The Greek was 2-4 down to lucky loser Alexei Popyrin when he called the physio, and decided not to continue playing. He later admitted he was focusing on the upcoming ATP Finals in Turin and didn’t want to get injured before the year-end tournament.
Tsitsipas was playing his first match in Paris since making his maiden Grand Slam final at Roland Garros earlier this year.
The world No 3 led Novak Djokovic by two-sets-to-love before losing in five, handing the Serb his then-19th Major title.
He was given centre court billing on his return to the French capital on Wednesday (October 3) to face world No 71 Popyrin, who got into the tournament as a lucky loser.
However, the 23-year-old managed just six games before retiring the match, allowing the Aussie to advance to the round of 16, where he will face compatriot James Duckworth.
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Having spent just 29 minutes on court, Tsitsipas was momentarily booed by the crowd when shaking hands with his 22-year-old opponent.
The third seed later revealed he had been suffering an “issue” with his arm for several weeks, and retired as a form of precaution ahead of the upcoming ATP Finals in Turin.
Tsitsipas won the season-ending event back in 2019 and has qualified once again, in the first year the tournament will be held in Italy.
“I haven’t retired once in my life, and it was something that I had to do today… I’m trying to be cautious for the next tournament, which is the most important one for me,” he said, coming to press shortly after retiring the match.
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“I have had an issue there for quite a while now. It has gotten bigger in the past couple of weeks, so I’m just trying to protect it. I felt the pain playing in the match, and I just don’t want for it to get worse than it is now.”
With just 11 days until the year-end finals begin, the former champion outlined his plans for recovery.
He added: “I know how to treat it, but playing every day, going out on the court practising doesn’t make it better.
“It’s not easy to just stop, especially when you have important tournaments like this one here that I really wanted to do well [in]. It hurts a lot not to be able to play at the level that I’m expected to play, and I’m expecting myself to play.
“I’m going to have treatment. I’m going to try and have the best people treat me and give me the best advice – anything possible to recover and be 100 per cent again.”
The world No 3 also told reporters that the issue was something he had dealt with since 2014, which “comes and goes”.
Tsitsipas wasn’t the only top seed to exit the Paris Masters today, as fifth seed and fellow ATP Finals qualifier Andrey Rublev fell to the in-form Taylor Fritz.
Ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta also both lost their chances to nab one of the final two qualification spots at the ATP Finals as they lost to Dominik Koepfer – Andy Murray’s conqueror – and Hugo Gaston respectively.
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