Novak Djokovic must take every possible opportunity on court this autumn if he wants to qualify for the year-end championships, with the Serb doing just that this week at the ATP 250 in Tel Aviv.

The former No. 1 currently trails 15th in the 20022 point race but can make it into the eight-man November field in Turin by remaining inside the ranking Top 20 thanks to his Grand Slam championship at Wimbledon.

Due to his refusal to get COVID-vaxxed, the 35-year-old was banned from the Australian and US opens as well as the four Masters events played in North America.

Djokovic, playing here for a second time after competing as an 18-year-old, arrived from London and the Laver Cup, which marked the retirement of longtime rival Roger Federer.

“I have a massive respect for Roger, and to what he has contributed to our sport. He had an epic career, he can be proud of it,” Djokovic said as he prepared to make a second-round start after a bye.

“He’s one of the most recognised athletes of all time, his retirement is a sad moment for tennis.”

The Serb with 21 Grand Slam titles is nowhere near calling time on his own career.

“I still want to play tennis even though I achieved pretty much everything that you can achieve in tennis,” Djokovic said. “I still have passion and hunger to play at the highest professional level.” 

Djokovic will make his start against Spain’s Pablo Andujar after the veteran beat Thiago Montiero of Brazil 7-6(3), 6-1.