Sinner pulls out
Jannik Sinner has pulled out of the Paris Masters, stiill weary following a 2.37am finish in Bercy. Image by AP PHOTO
  • tennis

Weary Sinner ditches de Minaur clash amid schedule row

Ian Chadband November 3, 2023

Alex de Minaur has been the unwitting beneficiary of a scheduling row at the Paris Masters that forced his weary last-16 opponent Jannik Sinner to pull out just 90 minutes before they were due to clash.

Organisers of one of the sport’s biggest Masters 1000 events have been under fire for a schedule which meant Italian Sinner only won his previous match at 2.37am in the early hours on Thursday, giving him no time to rest and prepare properly for a match later that same afternoon against de Minaur.

Sinner’s Australian coach Darren Cahill led the protests, tweeting on X after the three-set win over Mackenzie McDonald in a match which had only begun after midnight: “2:45 a.m. Happy for the Jannik win, but zero care for the players welfare with the Paris schedule “

Other players slammed the ATP, with Norway’s Casper Ruud writing on X: “”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.”

Quarter-final for de Minaur
 De Minaur is the beneficiary of Sinner’s withdrawal, earning a walkover into the quarter-finals. Image by AP PHOTO 

“It’s crazy … tournament doesn’t care and ATP just follow what the tournament will want,” said three-time grand slam winner Stan Wawrinka.

Due to play de Minaur at about 5pm, the on-song Sinner, who’d won two of his last three tournaments including a triumph at the Vienna Open on Sunday, confirmed he was pulling out about an hour and a half beforehand.

“I am sorry to announce that I am withdrawing,” wrote Sinner on X.

“I finished the match when it was almost 3 in the morning and didn’t go to bed until a few hours later. I had less than 12 hours to rest and prepare for the next game.

“I have to make the right decision for my health and my body. The weeks ahead with the ATP Finals at home and the Davis Cup will be very important, now I focus on preparing for these important events. See you in Turin! Forza!”

The walkover, though, was a surprise boost for 24-year-old de Minaur, who’s been given a passage through to a quarter-final meeting with fifth seed Andrey Rublev, who defeated Botic van de Zandschulp 6-3 6-3.

Not only was de Minaur spared having to play Sinner, who’s beaten him in their five previous encounters, but he’s also had a welcome rest day after gruelling contests against Andy Murray and Dusan Lajovic.

It also heightens the Sydneysider’s slim hopes of reaching the end-of-season ATP Finals as one of the top eight men’s players in 2023.

While de Minaur enjoyed a cruisy day off, world No.1 Novak Djokovic revealed he’d been ill before escaping with a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 win over Tallon Griekspoor.

“I’ve been struggling the last couple of days with my stomach and I just didn’t feel myself at all,” Djokovic said after securing a quarter-final against sixth seed Holger Rune, a 6-3 6-3 winner over Daniel Altmaier.

Stefanos Tsitsipas was the sixth man to book his Turin place by beating Alexander Zverev 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 and he’ll join the already-qualified Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, Sinner and Rublev.

Zverev could still make it into the final eight, with both de Minaur and Hubert Hurkacz also in the hunt for the last two places. 

Poland’s 11th seed Hurkacz beat Francisco Cerundolo 6-4 6-3 and will face Grigor Dimitrov, who cruised past Alexander Bublik 6-2 6-2.

Karen Khachanov, Paris winner in 2018, rallied to a 4-6 6-4 6-2 win over qualifier Roman Safiullin to set up a quarter-final with Tsitsipas.