World No 1 Rafael Nadal has pulled out of the Paris Masters due to an abdominal problem.
Nadal and Novak Djokovic were set to battle for the world number one spot in France this week.
He was due to face Spain’s Fernando Verdasco after he secured a 6-4 6-4 win over home player Jeremy Chardy. The Spaniard’s withdrawal means that Djokovic will become new No1 regardless of how far he goes in Paris.
Djokovic started his bid to regain the world number one spot with a comfortable 7-5 6-1 win over Portuguese qualifier Joao Sousa at the Paris Masters.
The Serbian has won 19 consecutive matches and is aiming to move ahead of Nadal in the next set of ATP rankings following the French tournament.
Number two seed Djokovic, who had been given a bye in the first round, took time out during the match when play was stopped for a spectator to receive attention after falling ill, handing the man a towel.
Spaniard Nadal, who has not played since retiring injured in the U.S. Open semi-finals.
The 32-year-old needed to beat Verdasco to hold Djokovic at bay but the Serb will now return to the number one spot.
Nadal’s withdrawal could put his participation at the ATP Tour Finals in London at doubt.
Canada’s Milos Raonic has also pulled out of his second round match against Roger Federer with a right-elbow injury.
Federer has returned to Bercy event after a three-year absence, chasing his 100th career title after claiming the Swiss Indoors crown last week.
Nadal and Djokovic had defended their scheduled exhibition match in Saudi Arabia in the face of mounting criticism, but say they will seek more information before committing to the event.
Amnesty International have condemned the game which the pair were at pains to point out they committed to over a year ago – before the recent death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the country.
They are set to battle for the world number one spot at the Paris Masters in France this week but the focus was on their lucrative contest on December 22.
Nadal suggested he would seek more information, telling a press conference on the eve of tournament: "I had a commitment since one year ago. My team is talking to them, to analyse things.
"It’s terrible that one journalist lost their life. I know something happened very bad inside there. I hope things will clarify as soon as possible."
Djokovic issued a similar message, saying: "Of course I’m aware of what’s happening and it’s sad.
"Because right now we just don’t have enough information and we have to look into that a bit more and then we’ll make our decision soon."
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