‘Phenomenal achievement’: Djokovic stunned by return to top spot

Heather Diaz
November 4, 2018

Tournament organisers in Paris announced on Wednesday that Nadal had pulled out due to an abdominal strain.

With Djokovic only needing to better Nadal's performance in Paris to take top spot, the Wimbledon and US Open champion will become world number one for the first time in nearly two years next week.

The Spaniard is playing his first match since retiring with a knee injury in the semis of the US Open nearly two months ago, so will be fresh, even if his fitness is untested in the heat of competition.

Djokovic had learnt on Wednesday he would be back as world number one next week following Rafa Nadal's withdrawal from the tournament through injury.

"I feel like it's better for me to play matches rather than practice", Federer said. "I don't want to get into details but I think it's a minor thing".

"I'm obviously very proud of the achievement", said Djokovic, whose ranking slipped to No. 22 in May as he struggled to shake off a persistent elbow problem.

Roger Federer's bid for a 100th career title remains on as he beat Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3.

The 31-year-old Serb has returned to his brutal best this season with Grand Slam wins at Wimbledon and the U.S Open, along with ATP Masters triumphs in Cincinnati and Shanghai. "It is great to play him again".

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Nadal was also non-committal when asked about his decision and indicated it was hard to pull out as they had signed the deal to play the exhibition match over a year ago.

Top of the pile, for the top two seeds, Nos 1 and 2 in the world, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, there is the head-to-head contest for that No1 ranking at the end of the tournament.

"As everyone knows, I have been out of competition since the US Open", he told a news conference.

Djokovic established his quarterfinal clash with fifth-seeded Marin Cilic.

On a day of drama, the third seeded Roger Federer advanced to the third round by a walk-over when his scheduled opponent, Milos Raonic could not compete.

For Nadal, it is the second straight year he has withdrawn from the Paris indoor tournament and he is not sure if he will play at the season-ending ATP Finals in London, starting November 11.

The under-fire Grigor Dimitrov, meanwhile, beat Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets, winning the first 12-10 in the breaker. The American got past lucky loser Malek Jaziri, but will now run into Dominic Thiem.

In the quarter-finals, Khachanov will meet Germany's fourth seed Alexander Zverev, who subdued the scurrying defiance of Argentina's Diego Schwartzman 6-4 6-2.

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