The five-time Paris Masters champion Novak Djokovic made a winning start at the season's last Masters 1000 event, defeating Marton Fucsovics 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in precisely two hours. It was Novak's first singles match in 50 days, staying away from the court since the US Open final defeat to Daniil Medvedev and entering Paris, Turin and the Davis Cup Finals in the rest of the season.
Djokovic won 20 points more than Fucsovics, who gave his best to stay in touch with the world's leading player. The Serb had 24 winners and 23 unforced errors, and he overpowered the Hungarian in the shortest rallies up to four strokes to bring the victory home and advance into the third round.
Novak praised Marton and his fighting spirit, saying they pushed each other to the limit all the time. Djokovic broke in the encounter's second game, and he moved 4-1 in front with an unreturned serve. Marton saved a break point and held in game six before Novak produced a clean service game to maintain the lead.
Djokovic secured another break and the set at 5-2, looking good so far, especially after staying away from the court for weeks. At the beginning of the second set, the Serb held at 15 with a volley winner and wasted a break chance in game two.
Suddenly, Novak played a loose forehand in game three to experience a break and push his rival in front for the first time, as Marton held at love to open a 3-1 gap. Fucsovics secured the sixth game with a forehand winner at the net and clinched the eighth with a backhand crosscourt winner for a 5-3 lead.
Novak Djokovic praised Marton Fucsovics after their Paris Masters clash.
Serving for the set in game ten, the Hungarian fired a service winner to win it 6-4 and extend his chances ahead of the decider. Novak claimed four straight points from 30-0 down in the third set's third game and finished it with a winner to avoid a possible scare.
He broke Marton at love in the next one before the Hungarian broke back to stay on the positive side. In the sixth game, Djokovic seized the fourth break chance to open a 4-2 gap and held with a service winner in the next one to move closer to the finish line.
Fucsovics fended off a match point on serve in game eight before Djokovic sealed the deal with a forehand drive-volley winner on his serve for a place in the third round, where he faces Adrian Mannarino or Gael Monfils. "It was great to be back on the court after almost two months without competition.
I did not expect anything, but I knew this was not going to be an easy match. Marton is a very talented player; he has a lot of quality. It was a great fight. I could not break his serve, he was playing with a lot of precision, and we pushed each other to the limit.
It was a great opening match for me, and I'm very pleased. It's just about spending time on the court, finding that match play intensity and playing more points. The more matches I play, I think I'm going to get better.
I know myself well, I was in this situation before quite a lot of times, so hopefully, the experience can play a role in doing the job well," Novak Djokovic said.