World number one Novak Djokovic made a strong comeback in the ATP singles circuit but defeated Marten Fuskovics of Hungary 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the second round of the Paris Masters on Tuesday. The 34-year-old 20-time Grand Slam champion said on Sunday that his biggest fear was a lack of match practice as Daniil Medvedev dashed his dream of a Grand Slam sweep in the US Open final in September. The Serbian’s fears were fueled as Fuskovic underwent a harsher test than the ‘rabbit caught in the headlights’ he met in the Wimbledon quarterfinals earlier this year.
“It’s my return to competition after almost two months of not playing in the official tournament,” Djokovic said.
“It was difficult to get into my rhythm like this but I am happy that it is a good win.”
Djokovic – who is rare for him also playing doubles in Paris – said he expected a tough match despite having met his opponent three times in the past.
“It was a super fight,” he said.
“Now I have to play more to find my intensity level again.
“The more matches I play, the better I will play.
“I know this very well as I have been in this situation before. Hopefully this experience will be useful.”
Djokovic barely had to put second gear to reach the first set in 38 minutes after losing just two games.
But Fuscovix broke early in the second to go 3-1 up, activating the evening crowd at Bercy.
Djokovic worked to save the set 5–3, but was unable to stop Australian, French and Wimbledon champion Fuscovi from taking the match to the deciding set.
However, Djokovic pulled it together in the third set and broke his 29-year-old opponent to lead 4-2.
Djokovic had a match point in Fuksovic’s next service game as he turned the screw but Hungary saved it and remained in the contest by winning the game to go 3–5 down.
However, Djokovic made no mistake in defeating his 40th-ranked opponent for the match to enter the third round.
He will play the winner of the All-French clash between Adrian Mannarino and mercurial Gael Monfils.
Before that there was a tough time for another seed as well.
Felix Auger-Aliasime set up a second-round clash with Andy Murray’s winner Dominic Koefer, coming down from one set to beat Italian qualifier Gianluca Mager 4–6, 6–4, 6–1.
The 21-year-old, seeded ninth from Canada, needed five match points to do so against an arch-rival who played above his world ranking of 66.
Auger-Aliassime will face Koefer, who saved seven match points against world number one Murray, on Monday before winning his first match.
“The end of the first set was disappointing but I reacted well,” Auger-Aliassime said.
“I came back in the second set.
“After coming back so well, I created chances and I won the second set and then I finished very well.
“So the match was really an uphill one which was positive for me.”
Auger-Aliasime has been on the upswing, including reaching the semifinals of the US Open, although his quarterfinal rival Carlos Alcaraz retired from the match with a thigh injury.
The 18-year-old Spaniard, however, has shown real strength in defeating Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/2), 7-5 in a thrilling encounter. The encounter that lasted just shy of three hours lasted seven minutes.
Herbert, fired by a partisan crowd, saved two match points, but then gave Alcaraz the victory with his 10th double fault of the match.
Alcaraz will face in-form Italy’s eighth seed Jannik Sinner in the second round, which will see two up-and-coming young talents.
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