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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 18 November 2018

Paris Masters preview: Rafael Nadal faces tough return as Roger Federer takes on Milos Raonic

A look ahead at the main action from Wednesday's play at the ATP 1000 event in the French capital

Rafael Nadal practices in Paris ahead of his first match in almost two months on Wednesday. Getty  
Rafael Nadal practices in Paris ahead of his first match in almost two months on Wednesday. Getty  

The second round of the Paris Masters continues on Wednesday, and is highlighted by the return to action of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer going up against Milos Raonic.

Here is what to watch for.

Tough opener for Nadal

Rafael Nadal plays his first match since September today when he takes on Fernando Verdasco in the second round of the Paris Masters.

The world No 1, whose place at the top of the ATP rankings is in danger from Novak Djokovic, goes up against Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the fourth match of the afternoon session on Court Central.

Nadal has not played since retiring hurt in the semi-finals of the US Open against Juan Martin del Potro, where he was hit by a knee injury.

Nadal has to win the tournament, something he has never done before, to guarantee he stays at No 1.

If Djokovic, who won his second-round match against Joao Sousa on Tuesday, wins the title, or goes one round further then Nadal then he takes top spot.

Nadal will be wary of Verdasco. He has won 16 of his 19 previous clashes with him, but he was beaten by him in the first round of the Australian Open two years ago.

Verdasco also looked impressive in winning his first round match against Jeremy Chardy on Tuesday.

Prediction: Nadal should be a comfortable win, but if he shows any sign of lack of match practice, Verdasco has the tenacity to cause his problems. Nadal to win in straight sets.

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Federer's Raonic test

Roger Federer also plays his opening match in Paris on Wednesday, going up against Milos Raonic in a match that starts around 10.30pm.

Raonic has troubled Federer in the past, most notably beating him at Wimbledon in 2016, and the big serving Canadian had to dig deep to win against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on Tuesday in a three-setter that had three tie-breaks.

If Raonic serves well he is a menace to anyone, but Federer is a better returner, and player, then Tsonga, and he will be confident of progressing here.

Prediction: Federer in straight sets

Order of play for Wednesday

Court Central

From 2pm UAE time

Adrian Mannarino v Kei Nishikori (10)

(4) Alexander Zverev v Frances Tiafoe

Richard Gasquet v Jack Sock (16)

(1) Rafael Nadal v Fernando Verdasco

From 10.30pm

Milos Raonic v Roger Federer (3)