Humbert’s promises, high-level matches, the weight of absentees, a look back at the last Masters 1000 of the season in the intimate and unusual setting of the Accor Arena behind closed doors.
Romain Schneider and Jean-Julien Ezvan
Only three weeks after Roland-Garros, the last Masters 1000 of the season had a full week and crowned Russian Daniil Medvedev this Sunday at the Accor Arena in Paris. A closed-door tournament which did not clear the madness of Bercy but was able to offer parts of intense arm wrestling which, at times, made us forget the special conditions surrounding the tournament.
Great matches despite a gloomy context …
Usually the AccorArena would have vibrated on several occasions in front of the quality of many matches of this necessarily special vintage. But in 2020, nothing is normal and due to the confinement again imposed on the population since October 30, the tournament was played behind closed doors in a necessarily sinister atmosphere. In the deafening silence, with the soft hum of the air conditioning above the center court, not easy for the actors, already on the knees, due to the imposed constraints (frequent tests, bubble and the impossibility of seeing their family for several weeks) , to offer a decent spectacle. Yet the melted viewer of the little yellow ball, was able to appreciate the beautiful fights of Ugo Humbert, the sacred three-hour duel between Adrian Mannarino and Alexander Zverev or the very beautiful victory of Stan Wawrinka over Andrey Rublev. The show was part of the game despite the coldness of the context …
Ugo Humbert set an empty Bercy on fire
At 22, the Messin has taken another step forward in 2020 and reached at the Rolex Paris Masters his first quarter-final of the Masters 1000. Against Milos Raonic, he even had two match points in his favor to reach the last four. . This time, the final decisive game did not smile on him. Ugo Humbert had won two of his first three matches against Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the tie-break game of the last round, displaying true warrior qualities, coupled with his elegant left-handed play. Winner of two titles in 2020, he made his entry into the top 30 on Monday and confirmed that he was to be counted on now, at a time when the succession worries. By beating Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Lorrainer also hung his second top 10 in Bercy after Danil Medvedev in Hamburg in September. Slowly but surely, Ugo Humbert advances steadily and exudes a welcome freshness on and off the courts.
Zverev’s show of strength against Nadal
In difficulty on his services last year, guilty of repeated double faults, Alexander Zverev has regained his qualities as a server in recent weeks. Nadal can attest to this. Dominated by the German (6-4, 7-5) in the semifinals, the Mallorcan was not unworthy, but was overtaken by a player of 1.98 m capable of attempting and succeeding second balls at more than 200 km / h! Carried by his weapon of mass destruction, the US Open finalist was also very solid in the exchanges and relaxed in return. With his heavy and stretched missiles, he pounded the forehand of the king of Roland Garros, cornered. And above all, Zverev, not always known for his consistency, surprised by his consistency during this semi-final. Considered by many observers to be the future world number one, Zverev, already seven Masters 1000 finals on the clock, scored points against the man with 20 Grand Slam titles. What (almost) to forget the gray areas of this very divisive character, recently accused by a former girlfriend of domestic violence …
The cruel weight of those absent. Novak Djokovic, taking advantage of the freezing of the ranking decided in the spring by the ATP (due to the pause observed due to the health crisis, the ranking is established not over 12 but over 22 months, from March 2019 to December 2020) a, on the road to London and the Masters, preferred Vienna (elimination in the quarterfinals by the Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-1) at Bercy because there was “no point to gain”. The Serb had the satisfaction during the cut to learn that he would be for the 6e consecutive year (after 2011, 20212, 2014, 2015 and 2018) world n ° 1 at the end of the year (Pete Sampras record equaled). But the five-time winner of the Masters 1000 in Paris (2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019) missed the curtain on the 3e Masters 1000 of the season (he had won those of Cincinnati and Rome). Gaël Monfils and Benoît Paire also preferred to ignore and missed a great opportunity to shine. “We can already be very happy to have tennis tournaments right now with what is happening around the world. It’s a huge chance for us to be able to play a tournament like here, at Bercy ”, did not hesitate to assert Stan Wawrinka (eliminated by Zverev in the quarterfinals) who could have complained about the programming ( scheduled twice in match 6, he finished after midnight).
Khachanov’s flash pass. Eliminated from entering Vienna (by Grigor Dimitrov), Karen Khachanov saw a gloomy end to the season. He was also released as soon as he entered the Paris tournament 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 by the Spanish Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, from qualifying (his first victory against a Top 20, his first victory in the Masters 1000). . Since his title in Paris in 2018 (against Novak Djokovic), the Russian (19e world) has taken the bad habit of tripping over in Paris (eliminated from the start in 2019 by Jan Lennard Struff). Khachanov, a player under tension at the end of the season. In Antwerp, in the quarter-finals he had come close to elimination after losing his temper against the referee, before losing to Daniel Evans. In Paris this year, Khachanov will not even have had time to play on the center court …
The French executives walk in the shade. In the absence of Gaël Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the “Musketeers” who have carried the hopes of French tennis for many years have seen Gilles Simon (as in 2019) incline 3-6, 6-3. , 6-3 against Tommy Paul, Richard Gasquet fell to 2e round (as in 2016, 2017 and 2018) against Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3. Far from their past performances in the Parisian Masters 1000 (semi-finals in 2007 for Gasquet, 2012 for Simon). Aware of the passing of time, Ricard Gasquet stressed: “I hope to play a few more years. I don’t know if it will be possible. I will play next year. You never know what can happen, anything is possible. I can stop at the end of next year, play another year. Everything is possible. As long as I can play, I will continue. ”
Crystal physique Kevin Anderson. Kevin Anderson, as in Vienna (retirement in the semi-finals against Rublev, after having dismissed Carreno-Busta and Medvedev), was forced to retire in Paris. At 5-2 in the deciding game of 1er set against Daniil Medvedev in 2e tower. A new alert (adductor pain) for the South African (34 years old; 86e world) which, after having to deal with a suffering body (including a knee operation in 2019), finally seemed to resume its rise to the top after a complicated year 2019 (5 tournaments played only).