Novak Djokovic downed Ivan Dodig in straight sets in the second round of the Paris Masters. (Reuters)
With a win in his opening match in Paris on Wednesday, Novak Djokovic hauled in a $1.6 million bonus for appearing in seven of the eight mandatory Masters 1000 events.
As the year-end No. 1, Djokovic would have received a $2 million bonus but was reportedly docked some $400,000 when he missed Shanghai due to injury.
And there was speculation that the world No. 1 would withdraw from Paris as well, which would have cost him the entirety of the $1.6. million bonus. In a loss to Kei Nishikori in the Swiss Indoors semis last week, Djokovic twice had his shoulder checked out by the trainer and would have been justified in pulling out of the final Masters event of the season.
Djokovic scoffed at the notion that the only reason he showed up to play in Bercy was to net the huge bonus money.
"To be honest, it was really funny for me to see people coming up with these stories -- I even heard that I would get on the court and only play one game, just to get this money," he said.
"This is ridiculous. Look, we are all athletes. This is our job. We are all playing to be paid at some stage. This is normal. I don't see what's unusual about that. On the other hand, I came here because I want to compete. I want to play a tournament. If I know that I'm physically good enough to be competing, I will compete. If I don't, I will not compete. It's as simple as that."
Credit Djokovic for playing through the pain and acknowledging that he's healthy enough to compete (despite admitting his shoulder injury "isn't in the best condition yet" after the match). It does wonders for the tournament and I'm sure the fans in Bercy are ecstatic he didn't withdraw.
But count me as one who would have been absolutely fine with him pulling out of Bercy to rest for the World Tour Finals. Given the stratospheric year that he's put together, a bruised Djokovic doesn't need to win the last Masters event of the season by any standards. On the other hand, winning the ATP World Tour Finals in London would put an exclamation point on his season and keep his 2011 in the "greatest season in history" debate.
Question the shoulder all you want, but the No. 1 managed to win 90 percent of his first-serve points, including the decisive ace below, in a 6-4, 6-3 victory against Ivan Dodig.