Wildcard Murray is a draw for 'even the French' in Paris - Forget

Paris (AFP) – Paris Masters director Guy Forget has defended his decision to give Andy Murray a wildcard at the tournament starting on Monday, saying the world number 156 is a draw "for even the French".

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"Wildcards are always delicate. We had eight, we gave seven to French players. Murray should have had one at the French Open, but he turned it down as he thought his form wasn't good enough," Forget told a press conference on Saturday.

"He's come on a lot since then, he's a past winner in Paris, a former world number one, Olympic champion, winner of grand slams and the Davis Cup."

The 34-year-old Scot has tumbled down the world rankings after a series of career-threatening hip injuries.

But he arrives in Paris after some heartening performances, including defeat of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz at Indian Wells and a win over fifth-seed Hubert Hurkacz in Vienna last week.

"He played great when beating Hurkacz. So it's not unnatural to give him an invitation.

"Lots of people want to come and watch Murray. He's a wonderful example of courage after his hip surgery.

"Even the French are going to turn up to see him, not just the English."

Novak Djokovic makes his first appearance on court in Paris since defeat in the US Open final in September.

The world number one is also competing in the doubles as he seeks match practice ahead of the end-of-season Finals in Turin and Davis Cup.

"It's rare to see a number one in a Masters 1000 doubles, but he's lacking match time as he hasn't played since the US Open," said Forget.

Djokovic, a five-time winner at Bercy, teams up with his fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic in the doubles.

His singles campaign opens on Tuesday with a second round date against either Hungary's Marton Fucsovics or Italian Fabio Fognini.

Djokovic's bid to land all four grand slams this year was foiled in New York by Daniil Medvedev.

The Russian number two seed and last year's Paris winner looks to have a kind half of Saturday's draw with a possible tricky meeting against Alcaraz in rhe quarter-finals.

One player that will not be on show next week is Matteo Berrettini.

The Italian world number six and Wimbledon finalist pulled out on Saturday due to a neck injury.

"I want to make sure I'm at 100 percent for the ATP Finals," he wrote on social media.