Novak Djokovic "feels amazing" after surpassing Pete Sampras for the year-end number one record on the ATP Tour.

Djokovic was presented with the trophy for finishing the year ranked number one for the seventh time after defeating Casper Ruud 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in his ATP Finals opener on Monday, breaking a tie with idol Sampras.

A 20-time grand slam champion – a joint record held alongside Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Djokovic revelled in his latest achievement.

"It feels amazing and it feels even better when you win a match and then get your hands on the trophy that I have been blessed to lift seven times," Djokovic said in Turin.

"[I have won] one more than Pete Sampras, who was my childhood hero. He was the one that got me into tennis. He was also an inspiration to me and I dreamt of being a Wimbledon champion and World No. 1 like he was.

"Fast forwarding to today, it is quite amazing to be in this position. I am very grateful. It is something I am very much appreciating and not taking for granted."

World number one Djokovic is looking for his sixth ATP Finals title, though his last success came in 2016.

Djokovic produced a confident performance in his opening match against Ruud, dropping just four points behind his first serve and rallying from a break down in a tight opening set.

The top seed – who tied Ivan Lendl for second-most wins (39) in the history of the ATP Finals – will also face Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev in the Green Group.

"It was a really terrible start, but also funny because I’m still trying to figure out what happened," Djokovic said. "Casper started strong. He was serving well. The altitude, fast court, fast balls – it favours big servers. I knew he had a solid serve, but maybe not as good as Medvedev or Zverev. 

"He did positively surprise me with this serve, particularly in the first set. I just managed to read it better in the second set. But it was a close one."

Djokovic, meanwhile, expressed his shock amid the unknown whereabouts of WTA player Peng Shuai.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) has opened an investigation into Peng's sexual assault allegations against a former China leader.

Shuai, 35, posted on Chinese social media site Weibo allegations against Zhang Gaoli – the ex-vice premier and member of the Chinese Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee – claiming he had forced her to have sexual relations with him.

In the post, published on Tuesday before subsequently being deleted, the 2013 Wimbledon doubles champion alleged that the pair had extramarital relations and she had developed feelings for him.

All of Peng's content has since been removed from Weibo and numerous reports suggest she has not been seen in recent days.

"I did hear about it a week ago. Honestly, it's shocking that she's missing, more so that it's someone that I have seen on the tour in the previous years quite a few times," said Djokovic.

"It's not much more to say than hope that she will be found, that she's okay. It's terrible … I can imagine just how her family feels that she's missing."

Novak Djokovic made a confident start to his ATP Finals with a straight-sets victory over Casper Ruud in Turin.

The world number one is looking for his sixth ATP Finals title, though his last success came in 2016, and he overcame his Norwegian opponent 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 on Monday.

Ruud showed glimpses of the form that saw him become the first Norwegian to qualify for the season-ending tournament, but despite coming close to edging the first set, he never looked like upsetting the Serbian, who recently clinched the year-end number one ranking for a record seventh time.

It started well enough for the 22-year-old, breaking Djokovic in the first game and going 2-0 up before the crowd had settled.

His opponent soon recovered to break back, showing some of his trademark steel to come out on top in the longer rallies. Ruud was able to take the first set to a tie-break, but Djokovic secured it with a beautiful forehand-winner down the line.

Ruud pulled off some impressive winners himself on occasion, with some nice drop shots in particular, but he was rarely able to keep up with the number one seed's pace and power.

Djokovic won 20 of 21 first-serve points in the opening set, and his overall performance stepped up another notch in the second as he returned the favour to Ruud by breaking him in the first game.

The result was never in doubt from there, with Djokovic dominating on his serve again, only failing to get his first serve in once in the second set.

Ruud did not manage another break point after the opening game of the match and was forced to see his opponent comfortably serve out to open his tournament with a victory.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 

Djokovic – 23/13
Ruud – 23/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 

Djokovic – 10/0
Ruud – 9/4

BREAK POINTS WON 

Djokovic – 3/5
Ruud – 1/1

Novak Djokovic is aiming to match Roger Federer's record haul of six ATP Finals titles, though defending champion Daniil Medvedev will be out to deny the Serbian.

Djokovic has secured a record seventh year-ending world number one ranking, and gained vengeance on Medvedev for his US Open heartbreak by defeating the Russian at the Paris Masters earlier this month.

That win brought up a record 37th ATP 1000 title for Djokovic, who surpassed Rafael Nadal in that regard. The Spaniard, along with fellow great Federer, is not competing at these Finals.

While Nadal and Federer will be missed as the tournament makes its debut in Turin after 12 editions at London's O2 Arena, it provides Djokovic – who lost to eventual runner-up Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals last year – with a good chance of matching the latter's tally of Finals wins. 

Medvedev, the second seed, seems the most likely candidate to go up against Djokovic, though his first challenge is to negotiate the Red Group, which also includes 2018 champion Alexander Zverev, debutant Hubert Hurkacz, who defeated Federer at Wimbledon, and Matteo Berrettini, who will have the backing of the Italian crowd. 

Djokovic, meanwhile, has to get past Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud and 2019 champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. It is certainly no foregone conclusion, as the next generation of stars catch up with one of the game's greats.

Medvedev unfazed by Djokovic familiarity

It is Medvedev who gets the tournament started, taking on Hurkacz on Monday. The world number two has gone from strength to strength since winning last year's season-ending showdown by beating Dominic Thiem 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-4.

Medvedev has won four titles, including that crucial maiden grand slam, in 2021, with the 25-year-old reaching a further two finals, losing to Djokovic at the Australian Open and Paris Masters.

As well as meeting Djokovic three times so far this year (the record stands at 6-4 in the world number one's favour from 10 matches in total), Medvedev has also been practising with the world number one.

"You have to practise with other players," said Medvedev. "I think if you think, 'Oh my, he's going to see my weak side', your life in tennis will be too tough. You'd only be able to play with your sparring partner.

"You also need to play with the best players in the world to improve. The level of our matches will always be high, but you will try to adapt your style.

"I tried to re-watch the Australian Open final for the US Open final, and Novak watched the US Open match to change things [in Paris].

"We both did the right things [in Paris], but he played better on the day. You know nothing will ever come easily and you need to fight throughout the match."

Hurkacz will present a stern test. The Pole is 36-20 on the season having won three titles, while world number three Zverev edged out Djokovic in the 2018 finale. Berrettini, meanwhile, is making his second appearance at the Finals and will be eager to make home advantage count.

Tsitsipas happy with 2021 progress

Tsitsipas remains the only player to win both the NextGen and ATP Finals titles, but he has had to settle for something of a frustrating season. The Greek, ranked fourth in the world, has claimed two Tour victories, including his first Masters triumph, in Monte Carlo.

However, the Greek threw away a two-set lead in his first appearance in a grand slam final, as Djokovic fought back to clinch the French Open (his 19th major title, a tally he has now extended to 20).

The pair will meet again in the Green Group, though first up for Tsitsipas is Rublev, who he beat in Monte Carlo, though the Russian has won 48 matches in 2021.

"Overall, I am happy where I stand and I want to take an extra step and aim even higher next year. That will require new fresh goals. Working to find where the one per cent lies, or the five per cent, where I can benefit from it," Tsitsipas explained.

Ruud, the remaining member of the Green Group, should not be underestimated. The 22-year-old has won five titles this season and is the first Norweigian to appear at the event.

Daniil Medvedev has confirmed he will play at the Australian Open next year, as the debate over vaccine mandates continues.

Medvedev was defeated by Novak Djokovic in the final of this year's tournament, though the Russian has gone on to enjoy a brilliant season.

He has won four titles, including his first grand slam, beating Djokovic at the US Open in September to end the latter's pursuit of a clean sweep of the four majors in 2021.

Djokovic and Medvedev met again on Sunday, with the world number one coming out on top to clinch his sixth Paris Masters title and a record 37th triumph at ATP 1000 events.

Medvedev had appeared non-committal about being vaccinated against COVID-19, which is likely to be a requirement for any player wishing to compete at the Australian Open, but he dispelled doubts around his involvement when he tweeted on Tuesday: "See you in January @AustralianOpen."

While Medvedev will be involved in Melbourne, the participation of Djokovic – who is a nine-time Australian Open champion – is not yet known.

The Serbian has previously appeared hesitant over the coronavirus vaccine mandate, though he has not revealed whether he has been vaccinated or not.

Australia has enforced strict measures throughout the pandemic, with Melbourne having been under lockdown on six occasions since March 2020. Indeed, the city only lifted its most recent restrictions towards the end of October.

Athletes arriving in Australia prior to last year's event had to go through a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine.

Despite Australia's vaccination programme gaining momentum, travellers who are not citizens must be able to provide proof of vaccination and a negative PCR test result, while quarantine regulations vary depending on state rules.

Tennis Australia is reportedly still hopeful of securing a deal for unvaccinated players to compete in the tournament, subject to a two-week quarantine, with prime minister Scott Morrison suggesting players could be granted an exemption. 

On Tuesday, though, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews insisted players will have to be vaccinated.

"I'm not going to have people sitting in the grandstands having done the right thing, only to have millionaire players that ought [to] be vaccinated running around the place being essentially at such higher risk of spreading this – getting it and giving it," he said.

Speaking last month, Djokovic said: "I don't know if I'm going to Australia, I don't know what's going on. Currently, the situation is not good at all.

"Of course, I want to go, Australia is my most successful grand slam, I want to participate, I love this sport, I still have motivation."

Novak Djokovic claimed his sixth Paris Masters title on Sunday, overcoming Daniil Medvedev and gaining revenge for his defeat in the US Open final in the process.

Prior to this week's Masters 1000 event, Djokovic had not played since going down 6-4 6-4 6-4 to world number two Medvedev at Flushing Meadows in September.

That defeat ended Djokovic's hopes of sealing a calendar Grand Slam, but he was in fine form this week as he regained the title he last won in 2019, having not played in the competition last year.

Defending champion Medvedev started the final brilliantly, but Djokovic rallied to win 4-6 6-3 6-3, claiming a record-setting 37th Masters title in the process.

And the world number one explained how he learned from the mistakes he made in New York to prevail this time around, taking his head-to-head record with Medvedev to 6-4 in the process.

"I went back and reviewed the final of the US Open to see what I did wrong and what I did right," Djokovic told the Tennis Channel.

"I tried to read the patterns of his serve and the ball toss, maybe. I tried to look for the small details, because it was a match of small margins."

Reflecting on the showdown in Paris, Djokovic added: "He started better, broke my serve in the first game and I came back. He served the first set out pretty comfortably, but I felt as if I was there.

"I thought it was only a matter of time when I was going to read his serve better and start to make some plays.

"You can't go through him. You have to find a way to play with controlled aggression, play the right shots at the right time and make him come in. It's variety that wins matches against him. We both suffered on the court and there was a lot of gruelling rallies."

Djokovic, who had already secured a record seventh year-end number one, has won 49 matches in 2021, losing on just six occasions.

Novak Djokovic came from a set down to defeat Daniil Medvedev 4-6 6-3 6-3 and win the Paris Masters on Sunday.

Djokovic lost to Medvedev in the US Open final in September, with that defeat ending his hopes of a calendar Grand Slam.

But the Serbian, whose semi-final win over Hubert Hurkacz ensured he will be the year-end world number one for a record seventh time, got his revenge in France.

It marks a fifth title of the year and a sixth triumph at this event for Djokovic, who did not compete in the tournament last year – Medvedev winning it in his place.

The 34-year-old had it far from his own way, with Medvedev instantly going a break up, and although Djokovic hit back to draw level at 2-2, the world number two held off a second break point before nosing himself ahead at 4-3.

Yet having served out the first set at the first time of asking, the US Open champion slipped up in the fourth game of the second as Djokovic reeled off some superb returns, and he did not look back.

With the momentum and crowd on his side, Djokovic broke Medvedev twice in quick succession in the decider, and although he was denied claiming the win on his serve, it merely delayed the inevitable.

Medvedev's powerful serve was not enough, with Djokovic keeping his composure to seal a record-setting 37th Masters 1000 title with a sublime forehand into the corner of the court following a draining rally.

Novak Djokovic will wait until he is retired to assess his stunning feats but recognises rankings records as "the paramount achievement of our sport".

The Serbian will finish the year as the world number one for a seventh time, a new record having previously been tied with Pete Sampras on six.

Djokovic, who also leads the way with 345 weeks at the top all-time, secured his position by advancing to the Paris Masters final with a last-four win over Hubert Hurkacz on Saturday.

"Every achievement is special," said the 20-time major champion. "I try to make myself aware of the fact that I am in a very unique position.

"It's difficult for me to understand the magnitude of these achievements, not just for myself but for the sport while I'm still [an] active player.

"Probably when I retire, I'll be able to reflect on that a little bit more and appreciate it a little bit more.

"Of course I'm very appreciative and grateful for it now, but what is the next challenge is always in your mind while you're an active player. It's constantly another task, another tournament.

"So [I] don't have really much time to enjoy the success, so to say, because you always have to turn the next page."

However, he added: "Being historically [the] number one-ranked player in the world is probably the paramount achievement of our sport.

"Also, finishing the season as year-end number one requires full commitment throughout the entire year and consistency and playing the best tennis in the biggest events, which accumulate the most points that enable you to be highly ranked. So that's what I have done this year."

Djokovic will have his work cut out as he pursues a 37th Masters 1000 title, now facing Daniil Medvedev, the man who denied him the calendar Grand Slam in the US Open final.

"The job is not done," added Djokovic. "Obviously reaching the finals of one of the biggest tournaments that we have in our sport on our tour is something that stands out regardless of the year-end achievement that is completed.

"So hopefully going to have another great match and then take it from there.

"For now I am just proud and extremely happy. Obviously that was one of the biggest goals and it's always one of the biggest goals, to try to be number one and end the season as number one.

"To do it for the record seventh time and surpass my childhood idol and role model, Pete, is incredible. Very grateful, very blessed to be in this position.

“I wasn't bored without tennis, but I like competing so I was looking forward to coming to Paris and the biggest reason coming here was to clinch the year-end number one.

"Now that I managed to do it, it's a huge relief, as well."

Defending champion Daniil Medvedev set up a showdown with Novak Djokovic in the Paris Masters final after dismissing Alexander Zverev in straight sets.

The Russian, who downed Djokovic in the final of this year's US Open, was at his imperious best to see off Zverev 6-2 6-2 in the French capital.

He will now attempt to deny Djokovic a sixth title at the ATP 1000 event on Sunday, while seeking to etch his own name onto the trophy for a second year running.

World number two Medvedev, who overcame Zverev in the final of this event in 2020, ended the German's run of eight consecutive victories in style.

It took just 80 minutes for Medvedev to get the job done, his flat groundstrokes posing questions that Zverev had no answers to.

While Zverev did apply some pressure by forcing his rival to face three break points, Medvedev was cool under pressure as he held serve throughout the contest.

This triumph drew Medvedev level at 5-5 in the pair's head-to-head record.

He will likely face a sterner test against Djokovic, whose come-from-behind win over Hubert Hurkacz ensured he will claim the year-end number one ranking for a record seventh time.

On Sunday, he will bid to set another record by moving ahead of Rafael Nadal to reach 37 titles in Masters 1000 tournaments.

Novak Djokovic moved one step away from a sixth Paris Masters title by beating Hubert Hurkacz, guaranteeing himself the year-end number one ranking for a record seventh time.

The Serbian great is looking to get back to title-winning ways in his first tournament since September, when his hopes of a calendar Grand Slam were snuffed out by Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final.

He was pushed all the way to a deciding set tie-break by world number 10 Hurkacz, the player who beat Roger Federer at Wimbledon amid his breakout year.

But Djokovic had just enough in the tank to complete a 3-6 6-0 7-6 (7-5) semi-final victory, thumping his chest in relief and exhilaration as he got across the winning line.

On Sunday, he will bid to set another record by moving ahead of Rafael Nadal to reach 37 titles in Masters 1000 tournaments.

Saturday's success guarantees Djokovic will end the season on top of the ATP rankings for a record-breaking seventh time – Pete Sampras drops to second on the list with six years at the top.

Hurkacz broke serve in the eighth game of the first set and closed it out, only to surrender meekly in the second.

Djokovic broke to lead 3-1 in the decider, but a spirited Hurkacz recovered the break with a booming forehand into Djokovic's backhand corner in the seventh game.

The Polish player staved off a match point when serving at 5-4, getting somewhat lucky when a Djokovic passing shot landed just wide.

A tense tie-break swung Djokovic's way when Hurkacz lashed a forehand into the net at 5-5, and a backhand volley from the Miami Masters champion landed just wide on match point.

In the title match, Djokovic will tackle the winner of the second semi-final between Medvedev versus Alexander Zverev.

Novak Djokovic says he has room to improve despite easing past Taylor Fritz in straight sets to reach the semi-finals of the Paris Masters.

The world number one is competing in his first tournament since his dream of winning a calendar Grand Slam was ended by Daniil Medvedev in September's US Open final.

After beating Marton Fucsovics in three sets and then benefiting from a walkover against Gael Monfils in the last 16, Djokovic made light work of Fritz in Friday's quarter-final.

He sent down eight aces and was successful with 72 per cent of his first serves that landed on his way to a 6-4 6-3 victory.

However, Djokovic lost his serve on three occasions and, while happy with his overall display, the Serbian feels like there is more to come from his game in the French capital.

"I was absent from the tour for two months coming into this tournament," he said. "The last competitive match I played was in the US Open final, compared to the other guys playing one or two events prior to Paris.

"I knew that I needed to start well, with good intensity and put in a lot of hours on the practice court. But it's different when you play points in a competitive match.

"I am pleased with the way I played against Fucsovics and again today, though I did have ups and downs. I am not entirely pleased with the way I closed out the sets.

"I backed myself up with good returns and read Taylor's serve very well to get into rallies. I closed out the last couple of service games well and that's a positive."

Djokovic is aiming to win the Paris Masters for a record-extending sixth time in his bid to end the year as world number one for a record seventh occasion.

The Serbian will contest his 71st career Masters 1000 semi-final – four short of Rafael Nadal's record – against Hubert Hurkacz, who saw off James Duckworth 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 7-5.

With that victory, the world number 10 clinched the final singles spot at the ATP Finals in Turin later this month.

Hurkacz is the second Polish player to qualify for the event after Wojtek Fibak in 1976. It also means only European players will feature in the ATP and WTA Finals for the first time ever.

Saturday's other semi-final in Paris will be contested between Djokovic's US Open conqueror Medvedev and Olympic gold medallist Alexander Zverev.

Home favourite Hugo Gaston eliminated Pablo Carreno Busta earlier in the tournament but was always likely to face a tougher task against Medvedev.

So it proved, with the qualifier going down 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 in a match that saw Medvedev hit 13 aces to his opponent's one.

"When the atmosphere is against you, you need to face it," Medvedev said. "You need to try to win, no matter what.

"Even when it is against me, I think, 'I will try to beat my opponent and the crowd' because there is no other choice."

Zverev kept his momentum going with a 7-5 6-4 win over Casper Ruud in Friday's final contest, as he made it eight wins on the bounce.

The German held serve throughout, while breaking his opponent twice, to remain on course for a sixth final of 2021.

Alexander Zverev was given a thorough examination of his Paris Masters credentials by Grigor Dimitrov, but the fourth seed progressed nonetheless to reach the last eight.

Zverev, who last in last year's final, saw match points slip from his grasp in the second set as Dimitrov levelled the match, however, he eventually prevailed on Thursday.

World number one Novak Djokovic benefited from a walkover, while Daniil Medvedev also moved through to the quarter-finals of the ATP Masters 1000 event.

Zverev outlasts Dimitrov

Olympic Games gold medallist Zverev had to dig deep for his 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 win over former world number three Dimitrov.

It was Zverev's seventh win on the bounce, but he was well aware of just how deep he had to dig to see off a resilient Dimitrov.

"Incredible match," Zverev, who won a fifth tour title of the year last week at the Vienna Open, said afterwards. "Grigor is playing very high-level tennis and I had to leave everything out there.

"I think it was a very high-level match and it could have gone both ways, especially the third set. I am happy with how things went in the end."

Djokovic moves through without playing

There was no such ordeal for top seed Djokovic, however.

Djokovic – a 20-time grand slam champion – received a walkover after Gael Monfils was advised not to continue with the tournament due to an adductor issue sustained in his previous win over Adrian Mannarino.

Taylor Fritz awaits five-time Paris champion Djokovic after the American saw off 10th seed Norrie 6-3 7-6 (7-3), while Casper Ruud will tussle with Zverev.

Ruud's emphatic 6-2 6-1 demolition of Marcos Giron clinched a historic achievement for the 22-year-old – who became the first Norwegian to qualify for the ATP Finals at the end of a breakthrough year in which no player can better his five tour-level titles.

Hubert Hurkacz did his chances of joining Ruud in Turin no harm as the Polish seventh seed – who holds the last automatic qualifying berth – fought back to defeat Dominik Koepfer 4-6 7-5 6-2 and set up a meeting with James Duckworth, who beat Alexei Popyrin 7-6 (8-6) 6-4.

Second seed and US Open champion Medvedev was another who had to come from behind before ultimately seeing off Sebastian Korda 4-6 6-1 6-3.

He will go up against Hugo Gaston, who became the first French qualifier to reach the Paris Masters quarter-finals since 1990 with his win over Carlos Alcaraz.

Gael Monfils has withdrawn from the Paris Masters due to an adductor problem, handing world number one Novak Djokovic a walkover into the quarter-finals.

Djokovic has played only once on the ATP Tour since losing the US Open final to Daniil Medvedev on September 12.

That defeat at Flushing Meadows ended Djokovic's hopes of achieving a calendar Grand Slam, though the Serbian has returned to action for the final few weeks of the 2021 season.

With the ATP Finals coming up, Djokovic headed to Paris looking to regain the title he claimed in his last appearance in the tournament back in 2019. He needed three sets, but overcame Marton Fucsovics 6-2 4-6 6-3 in his first match.

He has won the Paris Masters on five occasions and is the top seed this time around, with defending champion Medvedev seeded second. 

Monfils, seeded 15th, beat Miomir Kecmanovic and Adrian Mannarino en route to the last 16, but confirmed to the media on Thursday that he had been advised not to continue.

Djokovic will face the winner of Cameron Norrie, who recently triumphed at Indian Wells, and Taylor Fritz in the quarter-finals.

The field has already been cleared of third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who retired hurt when facing Alexei Popyrin on Wednesday.

Novak Djokovic recovered from a second-set blip to emerge victorious 6-2 4-6 6-3 in his first match since the US Open at the Paris Masters.

Victory in Paris would see Djokovic – competing for the first time since September's loss to Daniil Medvedev in the Flushing Meadows final – clinch the year-end number one ranking for a record seventh time.

Djokovic looked to be on course for a routine victory to start his campaign after comfortably taking the first set against Marton Fucsovics in their second-round contest on Tuesday.

However, the top seed's Hungarian opponent fought back to force a decider, hitting 13 winners to seven unforced errors in the second set.

But Djokovic – a record five-time Paris Masters champion – ensured a remarkable turnaround was not forthcoming, breaking Fucsovics twice in the third and, after letting one match point slip, clinching his second to secure victory.

Felix fights back

Ranked 12th in the ATP Race to Turin, Felix Auger-Aliassime needs to lift the trophy in Paris and hope Casper Ruud and Jannik Sinner do not reach the latter stages to make it to the ATP Finals.

Auger-Aliassime risked falling at the first hurdle on Tuesday as the ninth seed was forced to fight back to defeat Gianluca Mager 4-6 6-4 6-1.

"I had difficulty with my pace at the beginning of the match," said Auger-Aliassime. "I didn't hit enough first serves so I had a bit of pressure on my second serve.

"So I could have served better in the first set. I [had] a poor game at four-all and I got broken, but even before that there were moments at 30-all it was a bit hot and a bit tight. I think I relaxed. I found a better pace at the beginning of the second set, and it went even better as the match went forward."

He will next face Dominik Koepfer in the second round following the German's stunning win over Andy Murray on Monday.

 

Alcaraz sets up Sinner clash

Sinner will have an extremely testing second-round clash after Carlos Alcaraz came from behind to see off wild card Pierre Hugues-Herbert.

Alcaraz let slip a 4-2 lead in the first set to lose that on a tie-break but won six straight points in a second-set breaker before eventually battling to a 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2) 7-5 win in two hours, 53 minutes.

"It's not easy to play against a home player," Alcaraz said. "I think we played a good level and it was a great match, so I am happy to win. He has a great serve, so I had to return better and remain focus. I think that was the key. I am playing at a good level and I want to finish the year strong."

Diego Schwartzman – the 11th seed – needed three sets to see off John Millman, 15th seed Gael Monfils reversed a one-set deficit against Miomir Kecmanovic and 16th seed Grigor Dimitrov survived a three-setter with Richard Gasquet.

But one seed did fall on Tuesday, Roberto Bautista Agut (14) edged by James Duckworth in three sets.

Novak Djokovic is unwilling to commit to January's Australian Open as the defending champion awaits confirmation on travel and entry requirements amid Victoria's vaccine mandate.

The state of Victoria, where the year's opening grand slam takes place at Melbourne Park, has introduced a vaccine mandate for professional athletes and across most industries due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2021 Australian Open went ahead, albeit in February instead of January, and without fans for most of the tournament following a snap lockdown of Melbourne due to COVID-19.

Last week, Australia prime minister Scott Morrison said unvaccinated players would be allowed to contest the slam if they completed two weeks in quarantine, though Victoria premier Dan Andrews dismissed those comments, insisting athletes would not be granted access unless they received the COVID-19 vaccine.

A record nine-time Australian Open champion, world number one Djokovic remains non-committal over his looming title defence.

"Well, I'm going to decide on whether I go to Australia or not after I see the official statement from Tennis Australia," Djokovic said as he prepares for the Paris Masters – his first tournament since losing to Daniil Medvedev in September's US Open final.

"Right now, we don't have any official announcement or statement. So until that's out, I won't be talking about this anymore, because I don't want to be part of the stories about the assumptions and what-ifs.

"When official condition requirements to travel to Australia and play in Australia are out, then obviously I'll see what I personally do with that, and also the bigger group of the players, you know, because the situation is obviously different in Australia than most parts of the world."

World number two Medvedev also refused to confirm his Australian Open participation.

"I always said it, that I really like Novak's answer about this. I want to keep my medical, no matter if it's about vaccine, leg injury, head injury... I want to keep my medical private for a reason," Medvedev said.

"I feel like tennis is such a brutal sport where you're always one on one against your opponent, and any information you give him can go against you.

"If you're playing Australia, it's obvious you're vaccinated. So that's why I said I'm willing to play Australia, but I won't say if you'll see me there, but we're going to see in January."

World number one Novak Djokovic said he will return to action at the Paris Masters blessed to be a more "humble" tennis player.

The Serbian makes his first appearance since his US Open final defeat to Daniil Medvedev at the ATP 1000 tournament in the French capital.

That defeat in New York cost Djokovic the chance to become only the third man to win a singles calendar slam by winning all four majors in the same year.

Djokovic also missed the opportunity to move top of the all-time Grand Slam tournament winners list and remains joint-top alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal with 20 titles.

However, the 34-year-old – whose status for the 2021 Australian Open remains unknown – was phlegmatic when he reflected on his loss to Russian world number two Medvedev.

"In a most ideal scenario, I would have won all four of them," Djokovic told a media conference. "Knowing I was so close gives me great encouragement for the future, but it also makes me feel humble about my game, about my career.

"It gives me a kind of reality check where I have to go back to the practice court and really understand what needs to be done so that I could improve.

"This was not an ordinary loss considering the circumstances. I have learned over the years to deal with losses in such way that I treat them as great opportunities for growth.

"I feel that the US Open loss in the final has arrived arguably at the worst or at the best time for me, in a way.

"I'm disappointed that I lost the match, but I feel like I was blessed to experience love from the crowd and support from the stadium that I have never experienced before in my life in New York, and actually not in many places around the world.

"That kind of energy that I received from the crowd from the moment I stepped on the court until I stepped out is a win for life."

Djokovic, who has won four of the last eight Paris Masters tournaments, claimed the prospect of ending the year as the world number one ahead of Medvedev will motivate him.

Should he do so then Djokovic would leapfrog Pete Sampras for the most year-end number one finishes in history with seven.

He will face either Italian Fabio Fognini or Hungarian Marton Fucsovics having received a bye through the first round.

"The year-end number one is on the line between Medvedev and myself, and I'm in a pretty good position," added Djokovic, who has won 85 ATP tour titles.

"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 of the season and clinch that year-end number one.

"I’m pleased to be back. I have been training really well the past couple of weeks. And I have had plenty of success in Paris over the years, so that gives me enough reason to believe that I can do well.

"The lack of match play could be dangerous, so I have to really make sure that I start off my first match very well with a good intensity and build my form."

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