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Auger-Aliassime remains in mix for ATP Finals ahead of Paris Masters opener

Taylor Fritz of the United States stayed in contention for one of the two remaining ATP Finals spots by defeating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5, 6-2 in the first round of the Paris Masters on Monday.

Fritz rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the opening set and took the second by winning the last four games. Davidovich Fokina made 24 unforced errors to just nine for Fritz.

Carlos Alcaraz, Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic have already qualified for the ATP Finals.

Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal, Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz are in the running to round out the eight-player field.

“It’s been the best season ever,” Fritz said in an on-court interview. “No pressure. I’m just trying to have the best result I possibly can. I played well here last year, so I don’t see why I can’t do it again this year.”

Fritz has won titles in Tokyo, Eastbourne and Indian Wells this season. He lost to eventual champion Djokovic in the Paris Masters quarter-finals last year.

On Sunday, Auger-Aliassime defeated Denmark’s Holger Rune 6-3, 7-5 in the Swiss Indoors final for his third consecutive ATP Tour title.

Auger-Aliassime, the third seed in the Basel, Switzerland, tournament and ninth in the world, fired 11 aces and won 78 per cent of his first-serve points.

“It’s been an amazing week,” Auger-Aliassime said after the match. “Once again in the final, not getting broken all week. [It’s been] a long year, a long stretch of wins, and it’s not over.”

Auger-Aliassime defeated world No. 1 Alcaraz in consecutive sets in Saturday’s semifinal to advance.

The 22-year-old Canadian entered the tournament after winning the Firenze Open and European Open in back-to-back weeks. He is now up to four titles for his career and on the year, having won the Rotterdam Open in February.

Meanwhile, John Isner, Cameron Norrie, Karen Khachanov, Yoshihito Nishioka and Nikoloz Basilashvili also advanced into the second round in Paris.

Isner made a winning comeback in his return from a wrist injury by downing qualifier Oscar Otte 6-4, 7-6 (3).

The American broke for a 4-3 lead in the opening set and saved two set points at 5-4 in the second. He then raced to a 6-0 lead in the tie-breaker and served his 19th ace to win the match.

Isner will next play No. 7 seed Rublev.

Nishioka defeated Aslan Karatsev 6-3, 6-4 and will next take on top-ranked Alcaraz.

Steve Carr

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