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Novak Djokovic confirms he'll play in Vienna, looks set to consolidate World No. 1 spot

Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal after the Roland Garros 2020 final.
Novak Djokovic (L) and Rafael Nadal after the Roland Garros 2020 final.
Namit Kumar
ANALYST
Modified 12 Oct 2020, 17:27 IST
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As the dust settles after his 0-6 2-6 5-7 loss at the hands of Rafael Nadal in the final of Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic has started planning for the rest of the 2020 season - with tournaments already coming thick and fast.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion has confirmed that he will play the Erste Bank Open in Vienna, Austria, which is set to be contested from October 24th to November 1st. And although the tournament will see a packed main draw, Novak Djokovic's participation adds another layer to the race for the World No. 1 spot.

Novak Djokovic stands to gain more points by playing in Vienna than the Paris Masters

Novak Djokovic at the 2019 Paris Masters
Novak Djokovic at the 2019 Paris Masters

The packed tennis schedule during the restart of the season amid the COVID-19 pandemic has led the top players to decide their schedules very carefully. There is also a new provisional ranking system, in which players are ranked on the basis of their performances across a 20-month period rather than the usual 12-month period.

The Erste Bank Open announced the World No. 1's participation through their Twitter account on Monday. The Serb accepted a wildcard entry into the tournament this year, and will be participating in the Austrian capital for the first time since his triumphant run in 2007.

That also means Novak Djokovic will be playing in Austria just days before the start of the main draw at the Paris Bercy Masters.

However, being the defending champion in Paris, Djokovic cannot gain any points there. Conversely, the Serb stands to earn 500 points in Vienna, which could potentially cement his place as the World No. 1 for the year.

History also stands to be made if Novak Djokovic does cement his place as World No. 1. The Serb has now spent 290 weeks at the #1 position in his career, and he's just 20 weeks away from Roger Federer's record of 310. If the 33-year-old retains the spot till March 2021, he will sit at the top of the leaderboard.

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It appeared as though the only players who could challenge Novak Djokovic over the next couple of months were Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem. However, after winning an incredible 13th title at Roland Garros, the Spaniard is a doubt for the rest of the season given the fitness and safety concerns still prevalent amid the pandemic.

As it stands, Djokovic's biggest rival for the World No. 1 spot is 2019 Vienna champion Dominic Thiem, who will be looking to defend his title this year. Thiem will also play in Paris and the Nitto ATP Finals later this year.

With points available in Vienna, and a chance to make history on his mind, Novak Djokovic could well focus all his energy on the Austrian capital and give the Paris Masters a miss this year.

Published 12 Oct 2020, 16:02 IST
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