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Novak Djokovic reaches Paris Masters third round

Novak Djokovic, Corentin Moutet

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to France’s Corentin Moutet during the 2nd round match of the Paris Masters tennis tournament in Paris, France, Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)


PARIS -- Four-time champion Novak Djokovic overcame a first-set wobble against unheralded Corentin Moutet, beating the 97th-ranked Frenchman 7-6 (2), 6-4 to reach the third round of the Paris Masters on Wednesday.

The top-ranked Serb lost his serve to trail 4-3 and then needed to save two set points in order to hold the ninth game at 5-3 down.

The 16-time Grand Slam winner broke back for 5-5 against his 20-year-old opponent, who entered the main draw as a lucky loser and has never won a title, while Djokovic has 76 in his stellar career.

Djokovic, who lost last year’s final and last won here four years ago, dropped serve again as Moutet broke back to 4-2 in the second set.

But he was untroubled following that, and clinched the victory with a forehand winner down the line on his first match point.

“The overriding feeling is one of disappointment. I had some opportunities,” said Moutet, who drew loud cheers with one audacious shot where he flicked the ball back between his legs and lobbed Djokovic. “I gave everything I had, and the fans helped me with that.”

Djokovic, who stood to applaud that shot, next faces Britain’s Kyle Edmund after he beat 14th-seeded Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3.

Earlier, Dominic Thiem withstood 30 aces from big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic to win 7-6 (5), 5-7, 6-4. The two-time French Open runner-up also saved nine break points out of 10, and then broke Raonic for the first time in the ninth game of the deciding set before serving out the match.

The fifth-seeded Austrian player, who won the Erste Bank Open in Vienna last Sunday for an ATP Tour-leading fifth title this year, next faces Grigor Dimitrov.

Seventh-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas looked more comfortable reaching the third round, serving 13 aces and facing no break points in beating Taylor Fritz 7-6 (3), 6-3. The 21-year-old Greek player next plays Alex de Minaur, a 20-year-old Australian who lost the Swiss Indoors final to Roger Federer on Sunday.

Federer is skipping this tournament, but No. 2 Rafael Nadal was playing later Wednesday in the second round against unseeded Frenchman in Adrian Mannarino.

Another big server went out as 15th-seeded American John Isner - the 2016 runner-up - lost 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4) to Cristian Garin of Chile despite having 25 aces.

Denis Shapovalov of Canada used 14 aces in rallying to beat No. 11 Fabio Fognini 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 and plays No. 6 Alexander Zverev in the third round.

Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka - seeded 16th - advanced with a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) win over Marin Cilic and improved his record to 13-2 against the former U.S. Open champion. He plays either Nadal or Mannarino.

De Minaur upset ninth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (2), 7-6 (1), while in other second-round matches Dimitrov beat No. 12 David Goffin 7-5, 6-3, and Frenchman Gael Monfils won 6-4, 7-6 (4) against countryman Benoit Paire.

Nadal and Djokovic are vying to finish the year as No. 1.

The 19-time Grand Slam champion Nadal can guarantee it for the fifth time in his career by winning the indoor tournament for the first time.

Djokovic seeks a record-tying sixth year-end finish as No. 1.