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PARIS: Serbia’s Novak Djokovic yesterday crashed out of the Paris Masters in his first match, losing 0-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to American journeyman Sam Querrey in the second round.
Djokovic, who is assured of finishing as the top of the ATP world rankings at the end of the season, has not lost a match at such an early stage of a competition since Miami in March 2010.
His departure is a fresh blow for the tournament which has already had to do without star draw absentees Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic, who regardless of this defeat takes over the world number one spot from Federer on Monday, strode onto the court wearing a Darth Vader mask but found himself the victim of a Halloween horror show.
Querrey fired 18 aces in a battle lasting just over two hours, with the American winning his first career match against a top three player after nine defeats.
Djokovic had spoken this week about the repercussions the lack of a rest week prior to the season-ending World Tour Finals which begin in London on Monday could have, though barely imagining that he could be the week’s first major victim.
“I knew the main problems would be my energy, it wasn’t there during the second set. I really felt my level drop,” said Djokovic after the defeat.
“I struggled every game, but on the brighter side I have time to rest. I’ve been through a really difficult period this last few weeks. There have been a lot of things on my mind, some things happened...
“I have a couple of days now to rest. I’ve had to face some things a bit unusual for me, but when you lose a match you move on and go to the last tournament of the year.”
Djokovic did not comment on reports that his father has been in hospital in Serbia with a respiratory problem.
Yesterday’s shock win was the first for the 23rd-ranked Querrey against Djokovic.
Djokovic, who had not played since beating Andy Murray for the Shanghai title to win two Asian trophies in subsequent weeks last month, found his win streak stopped on ten.
The last two places in the London field will be decided this week in Paris, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga the next qualification candidate.
He heads Serb Janko Tipsarevic, who kept his hopes alive as he reached the third round at the Bercy arena of Dutchman Igor Sijsling 6-4, 7-6 (7/0).
French 12th seed Richard Gasquet lost his chance to continue on pace for the year-end event as he went down in the second round Dutchman Igor Sijsling 7-6 (7/5), 4-6, 6-1.
Juan Monaco defeated Grigor Dimitrov 7-6, 6-2. AFP