In his first singles match since missing out on a calendar-year Grand Slam, Novak Djokovic beat Marton Fucsovics 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the second round of the Paris Masters on Tuesday.
No. 1 ranked Djokovic showed signs of rustiness with a couple of unforced errors in the opening game, but he put pressure on his Hungarian opponent with the quality of his service returns, breaking him twice in the first set.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion dropped serve with a forehand error to trail 2-1 in the second set. Fucsovics leveled the set score when Djokovic hit a return long.
Clearly not at the top of his game, a roaring Djokovic punched the air after whipping a forehand pass to hold serve in the third game of the final set. He broke for a 4-2 lead when Fucsovics sent a backhand long before converting his second match point with a forehand winner.
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“It was a great fight,” Djokovic said. “We kind of pushed each other to the limit. It was a great opening match for me, I’m very pleased.”
Djokovic could clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking in Paris before the end of the season and break a tie with Pete Sampras with a record seventh year-end No. 1 finish.
“Now it’s about finding that match-play intensity and playing more points,” Djokovic said. “And the more points I play, you know, the more matches I play, I’m going to get better.”
The top-ranked Serbian has lifted the Paris Masters trophy a record five times and could break a tie with Rafael Nadal for the most Masters 1000 titles won. Nadal and Djokovic have won 36 Masters 1000 titles each, eight more than Roger Federer.
Djokovic came up one victory short of a calendar-year Grand Slam when he lost to Daniil Medvedev at the US Open in September.