Novak Djokovic can complete a stunning return to world number one at the Paris Masters this week as Rafael Nadal hits the comeback trail for the first time since limping out of the US Open.
Roger Federer could also resurface in the French capital after a three-year absence, although the twenty time Grand Slam champion said a decision on his participation will be made on Tuesday.
The Swiss star won his ninety-ninth career title in Basel over the weekend but hasn’t played in Paris since 2015 due to a combination of injury and selective scheduling.
Djokovic also missed last year’s event as he dropped outside the top ten for the first time in over a decade, but the Serb, who was lingering down at a ranking of twenty-second as recently as June, arrives having won twenty-seven of his last twenty-eight matches.
However, it was just months ago that doubts were raised over his future following a dramatic decline as he battled to recover from a nagging elbow injury.
He underwent surgery after a fourth-round loss at this year’s Australian Open but admittedly rushed his return and suffered a series of early exits that knocked his confidence.
The thirty-one year-old though outlasted Nadal in an epic Wimbledon semi-final before sweeping Kevin Anderson aside to claim his first Grand Slam since the 2016 French Open.
He then completed a sweep of Masters victories by downing Federer to claim an elusive Cincinnati title.
Incumbent world number one Nadal has not played since a knee injury led to him retiring from his US Open semi-final against Juan Martin del Potro.
The Spaniard, for all his success at Roland Garros, has never lifted the trophy at the Paris Masters – his best showing came when he lost the 2007 final to David Nalbandian.
Nadal withdrew before his quarter-final last year, and he must match Djokovic’s performance to retain top spot going into the season-ending Tour Finals in London.
Marin Cilic and Dominic Thiem are in position to claim the remaining two London berths, with Kei Nishikori and 2016 Paris runner-up John Isner still with an outside chance of qualifying.
With one thousand points to defend this week and four hundred to drop off from London, defending champion Jack Sock faces crashing out of the top hundred if he loses in his opening match.