World number one Novak Djokovic got off to a solid start in his quest for a record-extending seventh Paris Masters title with a resounding 6-3 6-2 win over Tomas Etcheverry in the second round on Wednesday. The Serb, playing his first singles match since the Davis Cup six weeks ago, took a 3-0 lead in the opening set and never looked back as he raced away to victory.
It was Djokovic’s eighth straight win in his current run of matches. He will play a qualifier next but is expected to reach the quarterfinals, where he will face either Britain’s Kyle Edmund or Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.
The Serb was rusty in the first set but regained his focus in the second to take control. He broke Etcheverry’s serve in the fourth game and clinched the set on his first match point with a forehand. He was a little more error-prone in the third set, with two sloppy unforced errors allowing Hurkacz to break for a 3-1 lead.
Djokovic saved two break points in the fifth to keep his perfect record intact and then won the final set in straight sets. The victory, which saw him claim his first match in Paris since defeating Roger Federer at the US Open two months ago, gave Djokovic a comfortable lead at the top of the rankings. He now has a 580-point lead over Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz, who exited the tournament on Tuesday.
It was the Serbian’s first match in a grand slam event since losing to Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final, and he was unfazed against the young Russian who is challenging him for the year-end top spot. Djokovic has 389 weeks at number one and is now the leading male player of all time, overtaking Steffi Graf’s previous mark of 377.
He was the runner-up in Paris last year and is bidding to become the only man to win all four Masters 1000 events. He will also aim to win a sixth ATP Finals title to surpass Federer as the most successful player of all time in that competition.
Djokovic is joined in the top half of the draw by compatriot Daniil Medvedev and Swiss qualifier Roger Federer, who will begin their campaign on Friday against Felix Auger-Aliassime and Marc-Andrea Huesler, respectively. In-form Jannik Sinner, Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud, and Frances Tiafoe are in the other half of the draw, along with Germany’s Alexander Zverev. They all have a chance to win the title. The final takes place on Sunday. The tournament is being held at the Stade de Bercy in Paris. It will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in the UK and Eurosport in France, with Amazon Prime covering it in the US. Follow all the action on the live blog.