Carlos Alcaraz retires against Rune in Paris, Sabalenka through at WTA Finals
The world number one, Carlos Alcaraz, retired with an injury against Holger Rune at the Paris Masters on Friday, sending his fellow 19-year-old through to the semi-finals.
After winning the first set 6-3, Rune was 3-1 ahead in the second-set tie-break when Alcaraz withdrew, having received medical treatment for an abdominal strain at 6-5. “I cannot stretch. I couldn’t serve well, I couldn’t hit the forehand well,” said Alcaraz afterwards. “I preferred to retire and see [the injury] and take care of it.”
Alcaraz is hopeful of making a full recovery for his debut at the ATP Finals in Turin, which begin on 13 November. “I have some tests on how it’s going to be before Turin,” he added. “But right now I’m focused on trying to get better, to be at 100%.”
Danish teenager Rune will face Félix Auger-Aliassime in a battle between two of the Tour’s most in-form players and a rematch of the Swiss Indoors final in Basel five days ago, which the Canadian won in straight sets. Auger-Aliassime extended his winning run to 16 matches with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Frances Tiafoe to remain on track for a fourth ATP title in as many weeks.
The 22-year-old cruised through the first set but Tiafoe dug deep to hold serve and saved five match points before Auger-Aliassime, who has also won titles in Florence and Antwerp recently, sealed a 93-minute victory on his sixth attempt.
“I feel better and better,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Of course right now I’m playing well and feeling good, but I see things that I can still do better and still improve on to be able to top the game.”
Novak Djokovic made light work of the Italian youngster Lorenzo Musetti in a 6-0, 6-3 win and will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-final after the Greek overcame American Tommy Paul 6-2, 6-4 in Friday’s late game.
Djokovic, a six-times winner in Paris, served Musetti a 24-minute bagel in the first, dropped only eight points. The defending champion then overcame a brief wobble in the second set, recovering quickly from a break down to close out victory.
Sabalenka joins Sakkari in WTA semi-finals
Aryna Sabalenka advanced to the semi-finals of the year-end WTA Finals with a 6-3, 7-5 win over Jessica Pegula in Fort Worth.
The Belarusian’s second group-stage win eliminated her opponent, and Sabalenka’s place in the final four was secured as Ons Jabeur lost 6-2, 6-3 to Maria Sakkari, who had already qualified but made sure of top spot in the group with victory.
Sabalenka made a blistering start, breaking her opponent to open the match and again for a 5-2 lead. Pegula fought off four set points to break straight back but Sabalenka broke to love in the next game to wrap up the set, and all but end the American’s hopes of progressing to the last four.
The world No 7 quickly broke to lead 2-0 in the second set but Pegula hit back before Sabalenka delivered a crushing service break in the seventh game. Pegula again broke to level the set, but Sabalenka snatched victory with a backhand winner in the 12th game, with a tie-break on the horizon.
“She’s an amazing player and she made me really work tonight,” Sabalenka said in her on-court interview. “Just happy that I was really focused from the beginning to the end and I was able to finish this match in two sets.”
The round-robin stage comes to an end on Saturday in Texas with the leader of the other group, Iga Swiatek, taking on the winless Coco Gauff. Caroline Garcia and Daria Kasatkina, with one win each, will face off for a likely semi-final against Sakkari.