Landmark for Djokovic, Cilic awaits in quarter-finals of Paris Masters

Djokovic is seeking to reclaim the top ranking from Rafael Nadal at a tournament the Spaniard has never won.

"I'm obviously very proud of the achievement, " said Djokovic, whose ranking slipped to No. 22 in May as he struggled to shake off a persistent elbow problem.

Speaking after the victory, he said: 'I am very close to London, to securing my spot mathematically.

"I always believe in myself, but it was highly improbable (five months ago) considering my ranking and the way I played and felt on the court".

"I'll probably be able to speak more profoundly about it when the season is done and hopefully if I get to finish as number one".

South African seventh seed Kevin Anderson, the champion in Vienna at the weekend, battled past Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/3).

But Djokovic has completely turned his form around, winning four of the last five tournaments he has entered, including Wimbledon, the US Open and most recently the Shanghai Masters. Fognini had a chance to pressure Federer in the 10th game when the 20-time Grand Slam champion was 15-40 down on serve. "But it's not the end of the season, so I can't be too ecstatic about it". Nadal, who has not competed since retiring with a knee injury against Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open semi-finals on 7 September, had been due to play his Spanish compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the Paris second round. Rafa is in the race.

"I checked with the doctor and the doctor recommended that I did not play".

The 14-time Grand Slam champion had begun his pursuit of the top spot in encouraging fashion with a 7-5, 6-1 defeat of Joao Sousa on Tuesday, his 19th consecutive win.

Cilic fired 29 winners to advance to the last eight for the third straight year.

For Nadal, it is the second straight year he has withdrawn from the Paris indoor tournament and he is not sure if he will play at the season-ending ATP Finals in London, starting November 11.

Djokovic, who is looking to win his 33rd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown this week in the French capital, will return to the summit of men's professional tennis on Monday nearly two years to the day since he completed his 223rd and most recent week in top spot.

In the quarter-finals, Khachanov will meet Germany's fourth seed Alexander Zverev, who subdued the scurrying defiance of Argentina's Diego Schwartzman 6-4 6-2.

  • Steve Townsend