PARIS — Novak Djokovic said he was proud of his “most amazing last five months” despite losing to Karen Khachanov in Sunday’s Paris Masters final ahead of his return to world number one.
The 14-time Grand Slam winner will replace long-time rival Rafael Nadal at the top of the rankings on Monday, capping an astonishing revival that began with a fourth Wimbledon title in July.
Djokovic’s elevation is remarkable as it comes just five months after he slumped to 22nd in the world — his lowest ranking for 12 years — when he was knocked out of the French Open in the quarter-finals.
“I’m satisfied of course and I’m going to be No. 1 tomorrow officially. And what more can I ask for? I won 20-plus matches in a row and had a most amazing last five months of the year,” Djokovic said following his 7-5, 6-4 defeat by Russia’s Khachanov.
“I’m getting into the season finale with a lot of confidence and feeling good about my game. Hopefully health-wise, physically I’ll be fine in a week’s time when it all starts in London (ATP Tour Finals).”
Djokovic backed up his success at Wimbledon with three titles in a row — at Cincinnati, the US Open and Shanghai — before his 22-match winning run was ended by an inspired Khachanov.
He refused to blame the exertions of an exhilarating three-hour showdown with Roger Federer in Saturday’s semi-finals after missing out on a fifth Paris Masters crown.
“I don’t want to talk about that. I want to talk about how well he (Khachanov) played all week, he absolutely deserved to win the match today.
“So all the credit to him. He deserves it. He’s a young player, up and coming. But already established player, top player. And he showed great quality today and he showed why we’re going to see a lot of him in the future.”
Djokovic will round out his year in London at the season-ending Tour Finals, which run from November 11-18, as he attempts to win the competition for a sixth time to draw level with the record held by Federer.
“Now it’s recovery time half of the week and half of the week training.”
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