"I am very close to Rafael Nadal in the rankings and I have put myself in a very good position for the last period of the year", Djokovic told the ATP after beating Borna Coric in Sunday's Shanghai Masters final.
Novak Djokovic took a major step to ending the year as world number one by winning the Shanghai Masters.
Red-hot Djokovic has now been victorious in 18 ATP matches in a row and in recent months won Wimbledon, the Cincinnati Masters, the US Open and now Shanghai for a fourth time.
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It is almost two years since Djokovic topped the rankings and he has made it his mission to topple the injured Nadal before the year is out.
Quizzed by reporters about his plans for next year, the 20-time Grand Slam victor - fresh from losing to 13th seed Borna Coric of Croatia - showed a flash of irritation. I was not serving particularly well, but that's also because I think he was returning extremely well. Roger Federer used to be the best mover in the game, now Djokovic is the best. The 21-year-old Coric, who won the Halle title on grass earlier this year, fell to 2-3 in career finals.
"He (Zverev) has improved a lot, and he has established himself as a top player", Djokovic said.
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"Obviously the last three, four months have been terrific for me", Djokovic added.
He will jump a spot to No 2 in the world if he reaches the final in Shanghai.
Djokovic dominated opponents behind his powerful serve, winning all 47 of his service games during the tournament. "I hope to see you next year", Ćorić said after the match. Zverev threatened to unravel and conceded the set in barely 30 minutes after landing a routine smash into the net, to gasps from the arena.
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Zverev, who qualified for the ATP Finals with his quarter-final win over Kyle Edmund, was unable to stem the tide and his frustration got the better of him after he was broken again early in the second set. An increasingly exasperated Zverev issued more punishment to his racquet at 3-1 down, earning a code violation and tossing the battered piece into the crowd.