Novak Djokovic has made it clear he is eager to topple Rafael Nadal from atop the ATP men’s singles ranking and become the new world number one before the end of the 2018 season in November.

The Serbian was not even in contention for the top spots in the singles ranking at the start of the year and even midway through the year, he was well behind the Spaniard, who has maintained his position at the top for most of the year.

Djokovic started the year ranked number 14 in the world after missing the last six months of the 2017 season due to an elbow injury. He again missed two months after the Australian Open in January owing to a recurrence of the same injury.

The 14-time men’s singles Grand Slam winner returned at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March but was not at his best. And after a run of poor results, he had dropped to number 21 in the world by the time the Wimbledon championships got underway in July.

However, Djokovic was finding his best level once again by the time the third major of the year arrived and he went on to win the title at SW19 which rocketed him up to number 10 in the world. He followed it up with titles at the Cincinnati Masters, the US Open and the Shanghai Masters proving he was back to his best after a long battle with injury.

Along with the titles, he also made ground in the rankings and he is currently ranked number two in the world having overtaken Roger Federer after his triumph at Flushing Meadows. Djokovic’s form coincided with Nadal suffering a thigh injury at the US Open, which saw him skip the China Open and the Shanghai Masters, which further allowed the Serb to close the gap at the top.

Djokovic is now just 215 points behind the world number one going into the final two tournaments of the year for the duo. Nadal is expected to make his return from injury at the Rolex Masters in Paris.

The Spaniard is defending 180 points in Paris and no points at the ATP Finals in London in November, while the Serbian star has everything to gain after missing both the events in 2017. It is a winner take all battle and Djokovic is keen to triumph and end the year as the world number one.

“When I had the surgery, obviously after that I actually thought I'm going to get back on the desired level quite quickly, but I haven't,” Djokovic said ahead of the Rolex Masters which got underway on Monday, as per Tennis World USA. “And I experienced quite a low point in terms of me, my quality of tennis in Indian Wells and Miami, and then I realized that actually, I'm far from my best. And then I understood that it's going to be processed and it's going to take time.”

“When I reunited with my fitness coach and tennis coach again, we set up a plan and the peak was supposed to arrive around US Open time, and it arrived before. Of course, we are very, very pleased with what was achieved in the last four, five months,” the Serbian explained. “And with Rafa's injury and him not playing China and so forth, it put me in a position to be very close to him in rankings and to fight for a year-end No. 1. So of course right now I'm aware of it and I'm going to give my very best to try to achieve it.”