Djokovic Survives Fucsovics Scare, Makes Winning Return In Paris
Novak Djokovic made a winning return to Tour on Tuesday at the Rolex Paris Masters in his first singles match since his US Open final defeat in September. But the Serbian was not immediately in peak form as he was made to work hard for his victory.
The 34-year-old, who is a record five-time titlist in Paris, recovered from a second set dip to overcome Marton Fucsovics 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours to reach the third round in Paris.
“It was great to be back on the court after almost two months without competition,” Djokovic said. “I did not expect anything but I knew this was not going to be an easy match. Marton is a very talented player, he has a lot of quality. It was a great fight. I couldn’t break his serve, he was playing with a lot of precision and we pushed each other to the limit. It was a great opening match for me. I am very pleased.”
Djokovic’s Grand Slam hopes were ended by Daniil Medvedev in New York but he is chasing more history this week in Paris. If the top seed wins the title in Paris, he will clinch his seventh year-end No. 1 finish in the FedEx ATP Rankings, which would break his tie with Pete Sampras for the most year-end No. 1 finishes in history.
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In a tight match, Djokovic struggled to find his rhythm consistently from the baseline, with Fucsovics striking the ball aggressively and with great depth, which caused the 34-year-old problems. However, as is so often the way, Djokovic found a way to advance, improving his ATP Head2Head series record against the Hungarian to 4-0.
“It is just about spending time on court, finding that match play intensity and playing more points,” Djokovic added. “The more matches I play, I think I am going to get better. I know myself well, I was in this situation before, quite a lot of times, so hopefully experience can play a role in doing the job well.”
The 85-time tour-level champion will next face Adrian Mannarino or Gael Monfils as he continues the pursuit of his fifth tour-level trophy of the season. Djokovic is also competing in doubles for just the third time this season in Paris alongside countryman Filip Krajinovic. The wild cards won their opening match against Alex de Minaur and Luke Saville on Monday.
Earlier this year, Djokovic triumphed at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon to draw level with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on 20 major titles. He also captured the Belgarde Open on home soil.
In a fast start against Fucsovics, it looked like Djokovic had never been away, racing into a 3-0 lead and not facing a break point in the first set to move ahead. However, after fending off a break point in the second game of the second set, Fucsovics grew in confidence as his level raised. The Hungarian hit 13 winners and committed just seven unforced errors in the set to force a decider.
In a tight beginning to the third set, breaks were exchanged before Djokovic begun to gain his focus to move 5-2 ahead. After squandering one match point at 5-2, 40/30 on Fucsovics' serve, Djokovic sealed victory in the following game.