The Serb will overtake British number one when the new rankings are calculated on October 19, should he reach the final of the Beijing competition.
Djokovic’s path back to number three has been made easier after Andy Murray withdrew from next week’s Shanghai Masters with a wrist injury he picked up at the US Open.
The 22-year-old Scot also missed the Japan Open this week and has set a target for his return to action in Valencia next month, before the end-of-season ATP World Tour finals at the O2 Arena in London.
Speaking after his victory over Verdasco, Djokovic said: “I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t counting that the rankings were dropping. Even though I was playing well and consistent this year, I still dropped a rank, meaning that others were playing really well Ã¢â‚¬â€œ including Andy Murray.”
“I was surprised he pulled out from Shanghai but he had some sort of injury. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how tennis is, we are all quite close and we can turn around any time. It isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the end of the year; there are still three or four tournaments to go.”
Djokovic now faces Swede Robin Soderling in the semi-finals in Beijing, where victory will guarantee him the number three spot.
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BIOGRAPHY: Marcus Rashford