PARIS: Novak Djokovic carries a ten-match winning streak into the Paris Masters, that begins on Monday for the final event of the ATP season, with the world number one riding a wave of form which has lifted him to a record year.
The Serb has not lost at the Bercy Arena since going down to American Sam Querrey in the second round three years ago when he was also dealing with a family health crisis.
Since then, Djokovic has claimed the last two titles, beating Canadian Milos Raonic in the final a year ago and Spaniard David Ferrer in 2013.
With another undefeated autumn run in China now in the record books, there seems to be no limits to the confidence of the top man in the sport this season.
“I haven’t lost a match, the last couple years during the indoor season,” said Djokovic in the Paris run-up.
“I’ve played only Paris and London (year-end finals) for the last couple years. But still the perfect record that I have in these two tournaments allows me to believe that I can do well.
“I’m not thinking about being unbeaten till the rest of the year. But, yes, that’s an option. It’s a possibility. But I’ll still try to keep the kind of a philosophy and approach where the next match matters.”
All 16 seeds in the field receive first-round byes, with number two Scot Andy Murray playing for the first time since losing badly in the Shanghai semi-finals last month against Djokovic.
Murray is concentrating on Britain’s historic Davis Cup final against Belgium, later in the month, as he worries about how to make the switch from indoor hardcourt to clay.
The British number one says he intends to play the World Tour Finals in London despite the fact he must switch surfaces within a week.
There were reports the 28-year-old would skip the eight-man season finale at London’s O2 Arena from November 15-22 in order to adjust to the indoor clay surface set to be used in Ghent when Britain chase a first Davis Cup since 1936 from November 27-29.
“My intention is to play at the O2,” Murray said on the eve of the Paris tournament.
Third seed Roger Federer arrives in the capital fresh from his 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 win over Rafael Nadal at the Swiss Indoors to claim a sixth trophy this season behind the nine of Djokovic.
Compatriot Stan Wawrinka will be hoping to regain form after an eighth first-round defeat in Basel. Czech Tomas Berdych, the number five, will try to back up his Stockholm title from last month.
Japanese sixth seed Kei Nishikori will make a return from injury after booking one of the last two spots in the London World Tour Finals.
Basel finalist Nadal, who lost a Bercy title bid eight years ago, comes to Paris pleased with his form after putting Federer under pressure in their Sunday showdown.
A year ago, the Spaniard missed Paris while undergoing appendix surgery but the former world number one has recently been busy compiling solid results, including finals in Beijing and Basel and a Shanghai semi-final.
Compatriot David Ferrer, last man into the London year-end field, takes the eighth seeding after missing last week with an arm injury.