Organisers of the Paris Masters are facing heavy criticism over their scheduling after Jannik Sinner withdrew from the tournament following a late-night finish.
The fourth seed did not conclude his second-round victory over Mackenzie McDonald until gone 2.30am on Thursday morning and was then scheduled to play Alex de Minaur at 5pm.
Sinner, one of the most in-form players in the world, said he had to make the right decision for health reasons as his next match loomed.
It was confirmed around 90 minutes before the start of the match that Sinner, winner of two titles in his last three tournaments, including in Vienna last Sunday, had withdrawn citing fatigue.
“I am sorry to announce that I am withdrawing from today’s match in Bercy,” wrote Sinner on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
“I finished the match when it was almost 3 in the morning and didn’t go to bed until a few hours later. I had less than 12 hours to rest and prepare for the next game.
“I have to make the right decision for my health and my body. The weeks ahead with the ATP Finals at home and the Davis Cup will be very important, now I focus on preparing for these important events. See you in Turin! Forza!”
Before Sinner’s withdrawal was announced, Norwegian Casper Ruud defended the Italian and criticised the ATP.
Eighth-ranked Ruud took to social media to brand the scheduling a “joke”, writing: “Bravo @atptour way to help one of the best players in the world recover and be as ready as possible when he finished his previous match at 2:37am this morning 14.5 hours to recover.. what a joke.”
Stan Wawrinka, a three-time Grand Slam champion, replied: “It’s crazy tournament doesn’t care and ATP just follow what the tournament will want! Always the same story…”
And Brad Gilbert, coach of Coco Gauff, said: “Crazy why at 10pm they had plenty of time to switch to court one was open, when there was a match still on center and another one to follow, before JS vs Mcdonald would get on center, horrendous decision to not have switched courts plain and simple.”
Late finishes are common place at other tournaments, including the US and Australian Opens, with Andy Murray describing his 4:05am finish in a match against Thanasi Kokkinakis in Australia this year as a “farce”.
Elena Rybakina said she felt “destroyed” by the Montreal schedule after her quarter-final ended at 3am in August.
Despite the complaints, the US Open has no plans to change its schedule.
“We looked at starting the evening session earlier, instead of 7pm start at 6pm, but it’s not really a possibility because it’s hard for New Yorkers to get here even at 7pm,” tournament director Stacey Allaster said.
De Minaur moves directly through to the quarter-finals, where he will take on fifth seed Andrey Rublev, who defeated Botic Van De Zandschulp 6-3 6-3.
Grigor Dimitrov continued his good form, beating Alexander Bublik 6-2 6-2, and will now face Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter final after he saw off Argentine Francisco Cerundolo 6-4 6-3.
But Roman Safiullin was unable to follow up his upset of Carlos Alcaraz, losing out 4-6 6-4 6-2 to fellow Russian Karen Khachanov, who set up a match against seventh seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Djokovic just avoids following Alcaraz out early to set up Rune rematch
Novak Djokovic is also through to the quarter-finals in Paris but only after the 24-time Grand Slam champion suffered a fright against world No 23 Tallon Griekspoor in their last 16 match on Thursday night.
Djokovic, playing in his first tournament since winning his fourth US Open in September, ultimately triumphed 4-6 7-6 6-4 but was made to work all the way by the 27-year-old Griekspoor.
The world No 1 is chasing a record-extending seventh title in Paris and had started his week with a comfortable 6-3 6-2 win against Tomas Martin Etcheverry.
The Serb though looked rusty in only his second singles match since playing in the Davis Cup six weeks ago, losing a 4-1 lead in the first set and squandering three break opportunities early in the second.
“I run out of steam, I’ve been struggling the last couple of days with my stomach, I didn’t feel myself at all on court,” Djokovic said.
“It could’ve run easily on his way, but I played a good tiebreak and started to feel better in the third. I’m really happy I overcame this challenge.”
Djokovic’s come-from-behind win against Griekspoor meant he avoided the fate of his rival for the end-of-year No 1 ranking, Alcaraz, who on Tuesday suffered an unexpected defeat in his opening match in the tournament against Roman Safiullin.
In a chance to avenge his surprise defeat in last year’s Paris final, Djokovic will now face a rematch with defending champion Holger Rune on Friday after the Dane claimed a comfortable 6-3 6-3 win over Daniel Altmaier.
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