Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the Paris Masters despite being the defending champion, dismissing concerns Rafael Nadal could catch him in the rankings.
Djokovic announced his decision not to enter the Paris tournament on Wednesday, skipping the ATP1000 event because he has no points to win as he bids to retain the World No.1 spot come end of season.
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“I won’t play in Paris as I can’t add to my points tally but I will go to Vienna and London,” Djokovic told Wednesday’s edition of Belgade daily Sportski Zurnal.
“I can win up to 500 points in Vienna as I didn’t play there last year and there are also a lot of points available in London.”
Djokovic clinched a record 36th ATP Masters crown when he won the Italian Open title in Rome last month, surpassing Nadal.
The World No.2 confirmed he would enter the Paris Masters after winning his 13th French Open title on October 11.
Nadal, who equalled Roger Federer’s record haul of 20 grand slam titles when he blew Djokovic away in the French Open final, has not entered the October 26 - November 1 tournament in Vienna but is expected to take part in the ATP Finals in London from November 15-22.
Djokovic, who won the Paris Masters last year, will not lose any points over skipping the event because the ATP Tour's revised ranking system due to the COVID-19 pandemic allows players to retain points from last year.
Asked if he was content to allow World No.2 Nadal to catch up with him in the Masters race, Djokovic said: “It's not my priority. My immediate task is to collect as many points as I can in a bid to put as much distance between myself and the chasing pack ahead of next season.
“I want to go down in history as the World No.1 with the most weeks at the top of the ATP Tour and I will do all I can to make it happen.
“Whether Nadal plays in Paris or not changes nothing because it’s all in my hands.”
Djokovic, who claimed his 17th major honour when he won this year’s Australian Open, was confident upcoming Serbian talents would follow in his footsteps one day.
“The last 10 or 15 years have been fruitful and the success has yielded players like Laslo Djere, Miomir Kecmanovic and Hamad Medjedovic,” he said.
“It’s great to see our youngsters winning tournaments.”
Roger Federer on track for Australian Open
Meanwhile, Federer is practising pain-free after undergoing two knee surgeries this year and says he expects to return to the circuit at the Australian Open in January.
The 39-year-old Swiss reached the semi-finals at Melbourne Park at the start of the year but missed the rest of the season after undergoing a second arthroscopic procedure on his right knee.
“I'm on the right track,” the 20 times grand slam singles champion told German-language magazine Schweizer Illustrierte.
“I'm gradually coming back but I'm going to take my time and don't want to put any pressure on myself. I will only take part in a tournament when I am 100 per cent fit.
“At the moment, it looks like I can make my comeback at the Australian Open in January.”
While he has made significant progress in his recovery he says he is still not at the point where he can train as normal.
“Not yet, more than two hours with the racket are not possible at the moment,” said Federer, who is currently ranked fourth in the world.
“But I've been working on my stamina and strength absolutely without pain for a while. There will be no further operations.”
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