Playing his first singles match since the US Open final 51 days ago, Novak Djokovic made a winning return in Paris on Tuesday night, battling to a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Marton Fucsovics in his opening match at the Masters 1000 event.

The No. 1-ranked Djokovic is now one step closer to two records: a 37th career Masters 1000 title and his seventh year-end No. 1 finish.

Though Djokovic had won all three previous meetings with Fucsovics, none of them were easy—Fucsovics had actually taken a set in two of those encounters.

And Fucsovics did it again in Paris.

Djokovic originally seemed to be cruising to victory, building a 6-2, 1-0 lead with a break point for 6-2, 2-0, when the Hungarian held for 1-all then broke for 2-1, and hung onto that break until he had the second set in his pocket.

Fucsovics looked like he would keep his momentum going early in the third, too, threatening to go up a break again with Djokovic serving at 1-1, 0-30—but Djokovic found an extra gear right when he needed it most, reeling off the next 10 points to hold for 2-1, break at love for 3-1 and go up 30-0 in the next game.

The momentum shifts didn’t stop there—Fucsovics broke right back in the next game to close the gap to 3-2, then Djokovic broke him right back to go up 4-2. The Serb didn’t let go of the break from there, though, eventually serving out the victory a few games later after exactly two hours on court.

Djokovic’s win over the No. 40-ranked Fucsovics was his 45th win of the year (45-6) and his 20th win of the year on hard courts (20-3).

Djokovic has now won 27 of his last 29 matches at the Rolex Paris Masters. He’s now 38-8 in his career at the Masters 1000 event.

Djokovic has now won 27 of his last 29 matches at the Rolex Paris Masters. He’s now 38-8 in his career at the Masters 1000 event.


While Djokovic may also be looking to build on his historic numbers at the Rolex Paris Masters—he’s won more titles (5) and more matches (38) than anyone else in the tournament’s history—he’s going for an even bigger piece of overall history in the French capital this week: the Serb could clinch year-end No. 1 here, and if he does, he’ll set a new record for most year-end No. 1 finishes in ATP rankings history—he’s currently tied with Pete Sampras for the record with six.

“The year-end No. 1 is on the line between Medvedev and myself,” he said in his pre-tournament press conference. “I’m in a pretty good position in terms of the ranking points and the race, so that’s obviously the goal for the end of the season, other than trying to do well in the Davis Cup with the national team.

“So hopefully I can have a strong finish and clinch that year-end No. 1.”

By reaching the third round, Djokovic has already forced Medvedev to have to reach at least the semifinals this week to stay in the running:

~ by winning the title (regardless of Medvedev’s result)
~ if he reaches the final AND Medvedev doesn’t win the title
~ if he reaches the semifinals AND Medvedev doesn’t reach the final
~ if he reaches the quarterfinals AND Medvedev doesn’t reach the semifinals
~ if he reaches the third round AND Medvedev doesn’t reach the semifinals
~ if Medvedev doesn’t reach the quarterfinals (regardless of Djokovic’s result)

Djokovic will get a day off from singles on Wednesday, and will play either Gael Monfils or Adrian Mannarino in the third round on Thursday.

Medvedev plays his first match of the week on Wednesday against Ilya Ivashka.