Landmark for Djokovic, Cilic awaits in Paris quarter-finals

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic said that he hasn't reflected on returning to world No. 1 but focused on every match at the 2018 Paris Masters here on Thursday.

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

As he then struggled to come back from a lingering elbow injury, the 31-year-old Serb's ranking plummeted to No. 22 in May this year.

"It's been a hard year for me in terms of injuries, and so I'd prefer to avoid doing anything drastic", he told the media minutes before his intended match against compatriot Fernando Verdasco who will instead face Tunisian lucky loser Malek Jaziri.

"I'm very, very happy and proud about it". "Five months ago, if you told me that (I would be No. 1 now), it was highly improbable at that time 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 No. 1".

The fifth seed bounced back from a bruising defeat to Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday, but overcame Mertens 6-2, 7-6 in a tense round-robin tie in Zhuhai, southern China.

Federer will play Canada's Milos Raonic on Wednesday after receiving a bye in the first round.

Federer will play either Kevin Anderson or Kei Nishikori in Friday's final eight. Fognini had a chance to pressure Federer in the 10th game when the 20-time Grand Slam champion was 15-40 down on serve.

"It's not the end of the season". Rafa is in the race.

John Isner's hopes of also making the London finals received a blow when he was beaten 6-4, 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (8-6) in an absorbing, huge-serving battle by rising Russian Karen Khachanov.

"I feel like it's better for me to play matches rather than practice", Federer said.

Ninth seed Barty broke Garcia once in each set to win the round-robin tie 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 16 minutes.

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

The Paris tournament is the last before the season-ending ATP Finals in London, which begin on November 12.

Top seed Nadal cited an abdominal problem as he pulled out of his scheduled second-round match with Fernando Verdasco, meaning he will be succeeded as world number one by Novak Djokovic on Monday.

"It was great to be here in Paris for a couple of days and practice with the guys", said Nadal who hasn't played since the US Open.

Serbian star Djokovic is due to face Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals in the French capital.

Thiem, also in contention for the ATP Finals, next faces defending champion Jack Sock of the United States.

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