Novak Djokovic is on the verge of surrendering his world number one ranking after the Serbian fell 6-4 7-6 to Marin Cilic in the quarter finals of the Paris Masters on Friday evening.
Djokovic has held the top spot in the men’s game for 122 consecutive weeks, but the Serbian will lose that ranking to Andy Murray if the British number one reaches the final in Paris.
Djokovic had not been beaten in Paris since 2012, winning three straight titles between 2013 and 2015, but he was far from his best on Friday, a reflection of the man who has strayed badly from his unrivaled standards in the second half of the year.
Cilic has had no such problems. The Croatian is on a nine-match winning streak, having won in Basel last week, and his triumph over Djokovic was his first over the world number one in 15 career meetings.
Both men exchanged breaks early in the first set, but it was Cilic who made his move in the 10th, and ultimately final game of the set, stepping up the aggression to break for the opener.
Djokovic had recovered from the loss of the first set to defeat Grigor Dimitrov in the previous round, and the Serb looked destined to repeat the trick when he served for the second against Cilic at 5-4, but a truly horrendous game ended with back-to-back double faults to the bemusement of the crowd.
Cilic could hardly believe his luck, and the Croatian engineered two match points on the Djokovic serve at 6-5, but the world number one raised his game just in time save both, and force a tie break.
The Serb seemed to have all the momentum when he opened the breaker with a mini-break, but Cilic wrestled back control to dominate the rest of the contest, carving out four more match points at 6-2.
A mid-court forehand winner sealed the deal for the Croatian- and opened the door for Andy Murray to become the world number one when the rankings are updated on Monday.
Should Murray beat Tomas Berdych later on Friday, he will play for the number one ranking in a Paris Masters semi-final against either Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Milos Raonic on Saturday.