Tennis: Djokovic defeat opens door for Murray to claim top spot

Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball during the first round doubles match with Serbia's Nenad Zimonjic against France's Quentin Halys and Adrian Mannarino at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 indoor tennis tournament in Paris on Oct 31, 2016.
Serbia's Novak Djokovic returns the ball during the first round doubles match with Serbia's Nenad Zimonjic against France's Quentin Halys and Adrian Mannarino at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 indoor tennis tournament in Paris on Oct 31, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (REUTERS) - Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Paris Masters in straight sets to Marin Cilic on Friday (Nov 4), opening the door for Andy Murray to snatch the world number one ranking and end the Serb's two-year stranglehold at the top.

Djokovic, who was chasing a fifth title in Paris, was beaten 6-4 7-6 (2), his first defeat to the big-serving Croat in 15 matches.

The defeat means Murray, who faces Tomas Berdych in his quarter-final later on Friday, need only win his next two matches in the French capital to end Djokovic's reign at the summit that stretches back to July 2014.

Djokovic, who needed to reach the final to guarantee keeping Murray at bay, saved two match points at 6-5 in the second set, the latter with a superb forehand cross court, but was soon facing a losing battle in the tiebreak.

Cilic, who clinched his spot in the World Tour Finals on Thursday, raced into a 5-2 lead before a huge serve set up four more match points.

He was soon celebrating after swiping away a mid-court forehand to claim victory in one hour 45 minutes.