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Stefanos Tsitsipas retires with arm injury as seeds fail in Paris


French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas was at the head of a long list of pits to leave the Paris Masters on Wednesday as an arm injury forced him to retire from a match for the first time in his career. The 23-year-old Greek was clearly out of contention from the start of his second-round match with Australian lucky loser Alexei Popyrin and gave up the ghost when he was 4-2 behind in the first set. Tsitsipas, third in the world rankings, said he was more concerned about ensuring he was fit for the season-end ATP final in Turin.

“I have not retired once in my life, and that was something I had to do today,” the Greek said.

“I also try to be careful for the next tournament, which is the most important one for me.”

Tsitsipas declined to disclose the exact nature of the problem, but said it had been a problem for some time.

Unlike Tsitsipas, fourth seed Alexander Zverev looked forward to his match against Serbian Dusan Lajovic, even though he struggled with a sore neck and won in straight sets 6-3, 7-6 (7/5).

Earlier, Felix Auger-Aliassime, semi-finalist of the US Open, fell back in a straight set defeat against Dominik Koepfer, who knocked out former world number one Andy Murray in the first round.

The 21-year-old Canadian’s disappointment was exacerbated by the fact that the 6-3, 7-5 defeat also ended his hopes of reaching the ATP final.

The ninth seed needed three sets on Tuesday to beat Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager, but there was no going back against the lucky loser Koepfer and Auger-Aliassime’s case was not helped by eight double faults.

“I sometimes fought against myself,” he said. “I was motivated to have a good week here, so I’m obviously very disappointed.”

Taylor Fritz, who knows what it’s like to lose to Koepfer after falling against him in this year’s French Open, sent fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev 7-5, 7-6 (7/2).

A broad smile spread across the big serving American’s face, a stark contrast to the grimaces of pain as he left Roland Garros in a wheelchair after injuring his knee in his defeat to Koepfer.

Fritz plays informed British number one Cameron Norrie in the last 16 after beating another powerful American, Reilly Opelka, 6-3, 6-4.

‘It’s cool’

There was joy for the large home crowd when French qualifier Hugo Gaston, ranked 103rd in the world rankings, beat Spanish 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 7-5.

Gaston, 21, refused to compare his victory to that of last year’s French Open when he beat Stan Wawrinka, but still enjoyed the moment.

“I had nothing to lose, it was crucial that I play my natural game so that I had no regrets at the end of the game,” he said.

“It’s nice to get the chance to play another game here.”

Gaston will play fast-growing Spanish 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz after he sent off another selected, the in-form Jannik Sinner.

Alcaraz, who reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals before retiring with a thigh injury against Auger-Aliassime, defeated the eighth-seeded Italian 7-6 (7/1), 7-5.

“I already knew he was going to be a top player when I played him on the clay in the Challenger Tour in 2019,” said Sinner of Alcaraz.

Alcaraz and indeed Sinner will strive to challenge number one Novak Djokovic and number two Daniil Medvedev in the years to come.

Promote

Medvedev dreams of overthrowing Djokovic, the man he calls his friend, as year-end world number one.

The 25-year-old Russian – who ruined Djokovic’s dreams of a Grand Slam whip by beating him in September’s US Open final – led to a routine 7-5, 6-4 victory over Ilya Ivashka of Belarus relieved.

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