Paris: Novak Djokovic pocketed a $1.6-million bonus just for turning up on court on Wednesday before making light of recent shoulder pains to beat Croatian Ivan Dodig 6-4, 6-3 in the second round of the Paris Masters.
An ATP rule designed to entice top players to take part in top events states that, as world number one, Djokovic is entitled to a $2-million bonus if he plays in all eight Masters tournaments. The bonus drops to $1.6 million if he misses one - and to nothing if he misses two.
Having skipped the Shanghai Masters through injury, the Serbian suffered a recurrence of a shoulder problem in his semi-final defeat in Basel against Japan's Kei Nishikori last week.
Djokovic, who said he spent his time between Basel and Paris recovering from the injury, dismissed talk that he had turned up in Paris just to cash in the cheque.
"It was really somehow funny for me to see how people are coming up with that story...I even heard that I would get on the court and play a game just to get this money. This is ridiculous, " he told a news conference.
"I need more matches before (the ATP World Tour finals in) London. I think it's obvious that I'm still not (at the) top of my game. But I'm taking things quite slowly knowing that the form will improve each day that I play. I believe in that."
"I have been working quite hard in the last couple of weeks after my injury, and I think things are going in the right direction."
Djokovic, who has won three Grand Slams and five Masters titles this year, struggled at times against world number 39 Dodig, but served strongly throughout and took his chances when it mattered to book his place in the third round. A break in the 10th game was enough for him to take the lead and another in the sixth game of the second helped him wrap it up.