Beyond the staggering figures: a 40th Masters 1000, a seventh coronation at Bercy, the virtual assurance of finishing for the 8th time in his career as world number one at the end of the year, all at the age of 36, Novak Djokovic recalled what incredible competitor he was. He, who suffered from a virus (gastric problem), was not in the best shape throughout the week. While the final was a formality, his previous three matches had all been lengthy three-set bouts, lasting up to three hours. But in the end, he almost always wins. Mentally, as an immense stainless champion. The force of habit. With this unique ability to tighten the game and always play the right shot in key moments even when he is not playing at his best level. The stainless champion does not seem satisfied. Discouraging for the competition.
The longer the better. If the exceptional duration of many matches posed real scheduling problems and led to controversies, tennis fans generally enjoyed themselves throughout the week. Which was not won in advance. Because if the Parisian Masters 1000 brings together the crème de la crème every year, it arrives at the very end of the season. The organizations are tired and the motivation of some is sometimes suspect. But the best players in the world were not in the mood for vacation this week in the capital. Twelve matches thus exceeded 2 hours 30 minutes. This led tournament director Cédric Pioline to say that the 2023 edition was “exceptional”. Special mentions to the standoff between Humbert and Zverev. The sumptuous duel between Dimitrov and Medvedev will also be remembered.
While the move to the Paris Défense Arena is taking shape for 2025, the 2023 edition reminded us that the Parisian Masters 1000 located in the east of Paris risks losing a legendary venue with an unrivaled atmosphere. There have never been as many spectators as this year in the Accor Arena (170,000 for the week). And the Central was more than ever a cauldron. It was in a noisy atmosphere that the magnificent losers Monfils, Gasquet and Humbert surrendered on the wire. It was in a hostile atmosphere that Medvedev played against Dimitrov. Passionate and excessive, the public was not always right. Particularly when he whistles at the, it is true, provocative Djokovic at the end of the first set of the final. The Bercy public did not disappoint in any way. Passionate, more than ever. Enough to fear that the tournament will lose its soul due to the probable move in two years.
Also read: Rolex Paris Masters: why the future move from Bercy to La Défense is making everyone nervous
Giving a few discreet middle fingers to the Parisian public, following his defeat against Grigor Dimitrov, would obviously deserve a scratch. But Daniil Medvedev has a comeback and when he returned to his “love story” with the audience at the Rolex Paris Masters, the audience was won over by the Russian's humor. “A middle finger? Oh no, I just looked at my nail like that. Why would I do that to this beautiful Parisian audience (...) It's a question of alchemy, of mayonnaise. I have a lot of French friends. They don't seem to like this tournament too much, maybe there's a reason. I play better here when there is no audience. I win when there is no one.” It was actually in 2020 when the tournament was played behind closed doors due to the Covid-19 pandemic that the Russian won the Paris Masters 1000 by dominating Alexander Zverev in the final. If he only played one match, the king of the punchline of this 38th edition is Medvedev.
Also read: Rolex Paris Masters: middle fingers, refusal to play... Medvedev attacks the Parisian public
The 2023 edition was marked by big fights, but also a very disappointing final, without suspense. A victory (6-4, 6-3) for the master of the place who benefited, it is true, from the numerous direct errors of his opponent. The tense Bulgarian Grigo Dimitrov never really got into his match, accumulating unforced errors (16). Yet another and final backhand error plunged him into great disarray in his chair. His few offensive attempts will have made him sputter. Like the finale to forget. A wet firecracker after a fireworks display.
With only one qualifier in the second round (Ugo Humbert), the Blues achieved their worst performance since the creation of the tournament in 1986. In 1996 and 1999, only two representatives reached the second round. 2023 therefore gets worse. There were eight at the start, only one remained in the second round. After the elimination of Humbert, beaten after a huge fight against Alexander Zverev (6-4, 6-7, 7-6), there was no French presence at the round of 16 stage. In the end, France loses. Like the other French veteran Richard Gasquet on Monday evening, Gaël Monfils lost on the wire with match points and regrets. As too often, the French sometimes shine in minor tournaments, but as soon as the step is high, they stumble too quickly. But the real disappointment of the tournament will remain the great hope Arthur Fils, who completely failed in his first round.
Stay the night at Bercy. Monday's night session ended on Monday at 2:22 a.m., that of Wednesday at 2:37 a.m., Jannik Sinner, world number 4, initially expected on the court on Thursday barely fifteen hours after his victory in the middle of the night, cited his state of “fatigue” to justify his decision to withdraw. Triple finalist in Grand Slam, Casper Ruud let loose on in the morning. 2:30 p.m. to recover. What joke". The organizers having had the great idea of scheduling the round of 16 between Sinner and Alex de Minaur in the fourth match of the day, and not in the evening session... A bug. Like these many spectators who had to wait outside, sometimes for several hours like Wednesday evening, when due to the 3:30 hours of the Zvrerev – Humbert standoff, the night session began, initially scheduled for 7:30 p.m., but began at 10 p.m. .
Clearly, Bercy is not successful for Carlos Alcaraz. He fell against Hugo Gaston in the 8th round two years ago and retired last year during his quarter-final against Holger Rune, the victim of a muscle tear in his abdomen. In 2023, the Spaniard was dominated from the start by the surprising Roman Safiullin. Clearly not 100% and not very energetic, the Spaniard was only a shadow of himself. Since his coronation at Wimbledon at the expense of Novak Djokovic in July, the prodigy has been in doubt, far from his usual standards, having experienced a mixed Asian tour, with eliminations in the semi-finals at the ATP 500 in Beijing and in eighths at the Masters 1000 in Shanghai. Too bad for the Parisian public.
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