'Very sad': Tennis fans left shattered over Novak Djokovic news

Gael Monfils and Novak Djokovic, pictured here in action at the Paris Masters.
Gael Monfils was forced to withdraw from his clash with Novak Djokovic. Image: Getty

Tennis fans were left saddened on Thursday when Novak Djokovic's blockbuster clash with Gael Monfils at the Paris Masters was scuppered by injury.

Djokovic advanced to the quarter-finals without playing a point when Monfils pulled out with an adductor injury.

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Monfils said he suffered the injury during his second-round victory over Adrian Mannarino, with an ultrasound revealing a muscular lesion.

"I have the impression that to be optimistic, in about 10 days I will be at 100%, but because of muscular lesion, you just need rest," Monfils told reporters.

The Frenchman confirmed the injury would end his 2021 season.

Djokovic will have mixed feelings about how he got to the Masters last eight as he came to Paris saying he needed match practice after seven weeks off.

It was also a bitter blow for fans who were eager to see the latest chapter in Djokovic's rivalry with Monfils.

The pair have played each other 17 times over the years, with Djokovic holding an astonishing 17-0 record.

Djokovic, a five-time champion in Paris, will next face unseeded American Taylor Fritz.

Fritz beat Britain's Cameron Norrie 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to damage the British player's chances of qualifying for the ATP Finals.

Fritz departed the French Open in a wheelchair this year but his return to Paris is proving a far happier experience.

The American is on a rich run of form as the season nears its end, the big server reaching the Indian Wells semi-finals and the St Petersburg final last Sunday.

Fritz - who tore his meniscus on the last point of his defeat by Dominik Koepfer at the French Open in June - says his hot run is down to his mentality.

"Definitely just my aggressive mindset, how I'm handling situations," he said.

"I'm not playing important situations scared and tight. My forehand really has become such a weapon that I can rely on."

As for the challenge that faces him in the shape of Djokovic, Fritz shows little sign of being intimidated.

"I mean, it's going to be a tough one," he said.

"You know, third time this year. I felt like the first two this year have been pretty close matches.

"Obviously now I am playing my best tennis, so I think if there was a time, it would be now that I can really push him."

Meanwhile, fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev advanced to the last eight after beating No.16 Grigor Dimitrov 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 in an intense contest lasting two hours 45 minutes.

James Duckworth, pictured here beating Alexei Popyrin to reach his first Masters 1000 quarter-final.
James Duckworth beat Alexei Popyrin to reach his first Masters 1000 quarter-final. (Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images)

James Duckworth advances to first Masters quarter-final

And James Duckworth has left Australia's Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt with some serious food for thought after taking another dramatic step forward in his brilliant breakthrough year.

Duckworth leapt into the air twice in delight after beating his fellow Sydneysider Alexei Popyrin 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 in Thursday's absorbing last-16 clash in Bercy to become the first Australian to reach an ATP Masters 1000 singles quarter-final since Matthew Ebden at Shanghai three years ago.

The 29-year-old had been hugely disappointed to be omitted from captain Hewitt's five-man Davis Cup squad for this month's finals, especially as three lower-ranked singles players - John Millman, Jordan Thompson and Popyrin - were selected ahead of him.

With this excellent and convincing win over Popyrin, Duckworth showed again why he deserved to be in the squad as he's simply the best Australian men's player on tour at the moment.

Alex de Minaur is the men's No.1 but he's won only four of 15 matches since Wimbledon, including Tuesday's loss to Popyrin in Paris.

Yet Duckworth, playing a brand of aggressive, fearless tennis now he's free from the injuries that have bedevilled him for years, has won 15 of his last 20.

The underrated Aussie will now break into the top 50 players in the world.

with agencies

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