Rafael Nadal, erstwhile world number one and top seed in Paris, withdrew from the event because of an abdominal injury preventing him from the second round face-off with compatriot Fernando Verdasco.
On a day of drama, the third seeded Roger Federer advanced to the third round by a walk-over when his scheduled opponent, Milos Raonic could not compete.
The immediate effect is the ascendancy of Djokovic to the top spot in the rankings.
The day started with schedule matches and players moving to the third round; with the top seeds playing their first match having drawn byes into the second round.
Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria defeated Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 7/6 (10: 6/4 while Alexander Zverev marched on with a 6/4; 6/4 victory over America’s Frances Tiafoe.
John Isner outlasted Kukushkin of Kazakhstan in a marathon 6/3; 6/7 (2); 7/6 (1) marathon in which the American’s service power determined the outcome.
Kei Nishikori continued his consistent winning ways in defeating Adrian Mannarino 7/5; 6/4. Marin Cilic kept his London quest alive with a quick 6/3; 6/4 win over Germany’s Philip Kohlschreiber.
The second seeded Djokovic had no idea that his second round victory over Portugal’s Jaoa Sousa would propel him to the top spot when the news of Nadal’s withdrawal spread through the venue.
Nadal has never won this indoor hard-court tournament; despite his eleven victories in the Grand Slam of a city he described the most important in his professional career. He had played the indoor event 6 times and reached the finals on his debut in 2007.
It is a recurring end-of-season fatigue for Nadal, caused by the grueling schedule and the demands of his style of play.
In the 2008 ATP Finals in London, he retired against Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko in the quarter-finals and gave a walk-over to Filip Krajinovic in 2017.
In this year’s US Open, Nadal had a walk-over loss to Argentina’s Juan Martin De Potro in the semi-finals.
The beneficiary of Nadal’s withdrawal was Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri who had lost in the final qualifying round and was pulled out as the lucky loser. In his match against Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, Malek recovered from a service break to win the first set tie break by 7 points to 5.
The cheery news of the day was the progress of South Africa’s Kevin Anderson into the third round.
He won the first set by 6 games to 3. In the second set, an early drop of serve in the tie break follows by another gave cost him the set.
However, he won the third set in a tie break by 7 points to 3.
Source: G Sport