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Djokovic revels in improbable journey back to the top

media Novak Djokovic was last world number one in November 2016. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Novak Djokovic celebrated his rise to number one in the world rankings on Thursday with progress into the last eight at the Rolex Paris Masters. The 31-year-old advanced after Damir Dzumhur pulled out of their last 16 match early in the second set with a back injury. Djokovic had taken the first set 6-1.

“I always believe in myself,” said Djokovic. “Buit five months ago if you told me that I’d be number one I would have said it was highly improbable considering my ranking and the way I played and felt on the court.”

After the Paris event, Djokovic will travel to London for the eight man end of season championships aiming to win a sixth title at the competition and cement his status as world number one at the end of the year.

“Reflecting on what I've been through in the last year, it's quite a phenomenal achievement. And of course, I'm very happy and proud about it.”

The Serb will next play the fifth seed Marin Cilic who edged past the ninth seed Grigor Dimitrov.

“Marin likes playing indoors,” said Djokovic of his quarter-final opponent. “Obviously he has a big serve and big game from back of the court. It's just a very powerful style of tennis.”

Djokovic added: “It's going to be a tough one. Tough to receive his missiles. His first serves are really fast and he uses a lot of rotation and variation with his serve. And if he has quite a high first serve percentage quite high, then it's obviously a big challenge.”

Djokovic, though, will enter the match brimming with confidence. Reinstalled as world number one following Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal from the tournament on Wednesday, Djokovic has been able to dislodge the Spaniard after winning two Grand Slam tournaments at Wimbledon and the US Open as well as Masters series events in Cincinnati and Shanghai.



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