Novak Djokovic overcame some magical moments from Corentin Moutet at the Paris Masters to win 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 in his first match since learning he will be relinquishing his world number one ranking.
The Serbian will lose top spot to Rafael Nadal for the first time in 2019 when the latest rankings are released on Monday, regardless of what he does in France.
His battle to win that place back before the end of the year looked like it might take a huge hit when 20-year-old lucky loser Moutet broke and then had two set points in the opener, only for Djokovic to shut the door, break back and clinch the tie-break.
Djokovic then opened up a 4-1 lead in the second set and – although Moutet sealed his second break of the match – was able to wrap up victory in one hour and 47 minutes.
A pedestrian and error-strewn start from Djokovic was epitomised when he meekly found the net to hand Moutet a break and a 4-3 lead.
Moutet had to stave off four break points in the next game and then missed two opportunities to take the first set as Djokovic held and broke back to force a tie-break, which he duly won.
The 32-year-old had already raised his thumb in approval at a forehand winner slapped down the line during that decider, and he had a wry smile when Moutet lobbed him with an audacious tweener in the third game of the second set.
However, that was the only point he won during that service game as the Serbian reeled off four games in a row to take charge, though Moutet did win one break back.
With Djokovic then serving for the match shortly after, Moutet was angry when his opponent was allowed to challenge, successfully, after he had already netted his shot.
He was given the point and the chance to seal the match, which he did at the first time of asking with a fine forehand winner.
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