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Ailing Djokovic ‘ran out of steam’ in Paris triumph




World number one Djokovic is the last of the top four seeds standing at the Paris Masters as he battled past unseeded Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, despite a stomach issue, on Thursday.

It was not the routine victory Djokovic enjoyed in his return to action a day earlier against Tomas Etcheverry, as he recovered from a set down to eventually win in two hours 39 minutes.


“I started off well but I ran out of steam. I’ve been struggling the last couple of days with my stomach and I just didn’t feel myself at all,” said Djokovic after the match.

“It’s hard to have a clear mind when you spent more time on the toilet than on court the last three days,” he added.

The Serb took an early break in the first set but surprisingly cracked at 4-2 as his opponent broke back and then went on to win four consecutive games to claim the opener 6-4.

The pair were inseparable in the second set as neither could force a break to gain the advantage, with the encounter rumbling inevitably towards a tiebreaker.

Djokovic showed his steel and composure to level the match with an imperious performance in the tiebreak, claiming it with minimal fuss.


The top seed’s experience was in evidence in the fifth game of the decider when he capitalised on some nervous serving from the Dutch 27-year-old to break.

But Griekspoor grittily kept his tournament hopes alive and was rewarded when he broke his opponent’s serve at 4-3, with Djokovic sarcastically applauding the Paris crowd afterwards.

This only fired up the Serb and he responded immediately, taking the very next game on the Dutchman’s serve to love, before sealing the match with his next service game.

The 36-year-old moves on to face Holger Rune in the quarter-finals, after the Danish sixth seed brushed aside German Daniel Altmaier 6-3, 6-3. Rune beat Djokovic in last year’s final in Paris.

Fourth seed Jannik Sinner withdrew before his third-round match, blaming a lack of recovery time after finishing his previous match after half-past two in the morning.


“I have to do what I believe is best for my health and body,” said Sinner.

The night before, the Italian started his match against American Mackenzie McDonald after midnight and battled to a three-set victory.

Sinner was due on centre court on Thursday as the fourth match on the schedule to face Australian 13th seed Alex de Minaur.

Darren Cahill, who coaches Sinner, criticised what he called “zero care for players’ welfare with Paris scheduling”.

Casper Ruud, the eighth seed, who lost to Francisco Cerundulo on Wednesday, echoed the criticism.


“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 2:37 am this morning 14.5 hours to recover.. what a joke,” the Norwegian posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Sinner arrived in Paris from Vienna where he won the title on Sunday in a final against Daniil Medvedev that lasted more than three hours.

Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to the quarter-finals and also locked up his place in the season-ending eight-man ATP Finals as he beat Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7/2), 6-4.

Tsitsipas became the sixth player officially qualified for the November 12-19 event in Turin after his first win this season in eight matches against top-10 players.

Zverev still holds the seventh spot in Turin but the two men immediately below him, Rune and Hubert Hurkacz are still going in Paris and could collect enough points from the tournament to overtake Zverev.


In the quarter-finals, Tsitsipas will face Russian Karen Khachanov, the winner in Paris in 2018. Khachanov beat compatriot Roman Safiullin, who had eliminated Carlos Alcaraz, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Hurkacz advanced with a 6-4, 6-3 win over unseeded Argentine Cerundolo. The Pole will face Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the last eight.

Dimitrov opened the day’s action by racing to a straightforward 6-2, 6-2 victory over Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan.

Andrey Rublev also moved into the last eight, beating Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-3.

The Russian has already qualified for the ATP Finals in Turin later this month. He will face the well-rested De Minaur in the Bercy quarter-finals.


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Haris Rauf’s BBL participation uncertain as PCB delays NOC: report




Pakistan pacer Haris Rauf’s participation in the Big Bash League 2023-24 is met with a potential hurdle as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is expected to delay the issuance of the No-Objection Certificate (NOC) required for his engagement in the league.

According to ESPNCricinfo, Rauf’s NOC is likely to face a delay until at least December 11, just four days after the start of the BBL. There is no confirmation of an immediate issuance thereafter.

The explanation for the delay revolves around the ongoing National T20 Cup in Pakistan, scheduled until December 10, which the PCB expects Haris Rauf to fully engage in.


Last week, Wahab Riaz, Pakistan’s recently appointed chief selector, disclosed that Rauf had declined participation in Pakistan’s Test series in Australia scheduled for December-January.

Wahab openly expressed his displeasure at Rauf’s decision, with both sides differing on the events leading up to this point. Reportedly, the 30-year-old cited his inexperience in Test cricket as the reason for not agreeing to play in Australia. Rauf conveyed to Wahab that focusing on his white-ball game and fitness would be more beneficial.

Rauf’s potential absence from the BBL could raise concerns, especially for Melbourne Stars, who had enlisted him as a key player. Initially, it was expected that Rauf would only miss the BBL during Pakistan’s five-match T20 series in New Zealand in mid-January. However, further delays may disrupt the league’s plans.

Melbourne Stars had introduced special memberships named “House of Rauf” for the initial three games at the MCG this year, along with a dedicated seating zone called Haris Rauf Bay.

Ongoing delays in Rauf’s NOC issuance may raise concerns among Pakistan’s centrally contracted players in general. Two more players, Usama Mir (Melbourne Stars) and Zaman Khan (Sydney Thunder), are also selected for the league.


Contract discussions between the PCB and the players faced obstacles, partly due to disagreements over the number of foreign leagues players could participate in annually. They seem to have settled on a limit of two leagues, contingent on the PCB issuing an NOC for participation.

The BBL is set to start from December 7, 2023, to January 24 2024.