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Tennis

Djokovic begins quest to reclaim top spot

Novak Djokovic lost his world number one ranking in Paris but can regain it in London.
Novak Djokovic lost his world number one ranking in Paris but can regain it in London. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Novak Djokovic can take the first step on Sunday towards regaining the world number one ranking when he starts the defence of his title at the ATP World Tour Finals in London. The Serb plays Austria's Dominic Thiem in the first of the singles matches in the Ivan Lendl Group.

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The Frenchman Gael Monfils, playing at the season ending championships for the first time, takes on the Canadian Milos Raonic in the other group match on Sunday.

On Monday Andy Murray, Marin Cilic, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori play their opening matches in the John McEnroe group.

Murray replaced Djokovic as world number one during the Paris Masters tournament. It is the first time the Briton has reached the pinnacle of his sport. Djokovic, 29, had been circuit supremo for 122 weeks.
 

The 29-year-old Serb held all four Grand Slam titles when he beat Murray to take the French Open in June. But since then he has slumped in form.
"I have only words of praise for what Andy has achieved in the last year or so.
Definitely he is a well deserved number one at this point. He has been the best player for the last six months without a doubt.

"Whether he can sustain that is not a question for me but looking at his qualities and commitment there is a good chance he can play at this level for a long time."

Murray has a 405 point lead over Djokovic and must match his performance to retain top spot at the end of the year. However the omens aren’t good for Murray. The 02 Arena has not been the happiest of hunting grounds. He has never been past the semi-finals while Djokovic has won the last five tournaments.

Nevertheless, Murray has enjoyed an impressive 11 months on and off the court. He has won Wimbledon for the second time, claimed a second Olympic singles gold medal and become a father to baby daughter Sophia.

"This year is the best I've had on court, the last few months have been the best in terms of my consistency," Murray said. "Away from the court it's been by far the best in my life, a big change and a great change. I've really enjoyed being a parent.

"When I step on the court I will have a little more confidence and feel better about myself. I don't want to spend time discussing what's happened in the last few months. I want to keep getting better. That's what I've always tried to do. I don't feel any different."

 

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