Paris: Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic continued their battle for the year-end World No.1 ranking as both players reached the quarterfinals of the Paris Masters tennis tournament with wins over Stan Wawrinka and Kyle Edmund respectively.
The 33-year-old Nadal is already guaranteed to usurp Novak Djokovic at the rankings summit next week, but winning a maiden title in Bercy would also secure the year-end top spot before next month’s ATP Tour Finals in London.
Rafa Nadal produced an impressive display Thursday evening to take his career head-to-head record against three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka to 19-3 with a clinical 6-4, 6-4 victory.
Djokovic had earlier booked his last-eight place with a 7-6 (9/7), 6-1 win over Britain’s Edmund.
Nadal has never won the Paris Masters or the ATP Finals and only two of his 84 titles have come indoors.
“That’s the beautiful thing about this sport, (to) have the capacity to adapt yourself to the different conditions,” said the 12-time French Open winner, who called the doctor onto the court in the second set to help deal with a stomach problem.
Nadal will face 2008 champion Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarterfinals after the French wildcard saved two match points to edge out Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(8/6).
“I have a match against a player that is playing well,” said Nadal. “I need to do a lot of things well, but I hope to be ready to make that happen.”
Nadal took the first set thanks to a single break of serve in game three, saving breakpoints in the second and eighth games himself before serving it out in style.
Top seed Djokovic needed seven set points in the first set before beating Edmund with relative comfort by racing through the second to make his eighth quarterfinal in the tournament.
“I was feeling energy-wise better and felt more alert, just more strength, more energy, more speed,” said the 32-year-old, who has been struggling with illness this week.
The 16-time Grand Slam title-winner is chasing a record-extending fifth Bercy crown and will next face World No.7 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4.
“He (Tsitsipas) is one of the best players in the world,” said Djokovic. “He’s already (an) established player, so it will be tough.”
Former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov produced a fantastic performance to beat fifth seed Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-2 and reach the last eight in Paris for the first time. Dimitrov was the World no.78 heading into the US Open, but reached the semifinals and is now ranked 27th.