Andy Murray's route to securing the year-end world number ranking looks fraught with danger after the top seed was grouped with Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic for next week's ATP World Tour Finals in London.
Murray did not need home supporters in Paris, beating big-serving American John Isner 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-4.
The 29-year-old Murray has three Grand Slam titles, two Olympic gold medals, a Davis Cup title and now - finally - the top ranking for the first time.
A 405 point gap now separates Murray from former world number one Djokovic with the ATP World Tour Finals to begin next weekend in London.
After looking invincible in the first half of the year, Djokovic, who faces Milos Raonic, Gael Monfils and Dominic Thiem in the other group, suddenly finds himself playing second fiddle to Murray. Murray went on to beat John Isner in the finals.
"You're playing against the best players in the world in this event".
Fellow countryman Smith, who along with Murray helped guide Britain to the Davis Cup trophy past year, said yesterday: "He's got a lot to look forward to as we move into 2017".
But Murray won the only meeting between the pair this season in the semi-finals of the French Open and leads the career head-to-head 9-7. "I was pleased. I felt really nervous before the match and I didn't feel flat or anything like that, which was the most pleasing thing about today for me", Murray said about the fear of having a letdown in the final.
Djokovic was officially the best male player on the planet for 122 consecutive weeks before his long reign officially came to an end on Monday.
"I will try and take a few days rest now, start hitting again on Thursday".
"I'll sit down with my team, maybe before London starts. I just want to play my best and finish the year on a good note in that respect". "They have similar styles in a lot of areas and there is no denying the Serb is one of the most spectacular and naturally gifted athletes ever to play the sport", Cash wrote in his column for The Times.
"I thought in the past years he would have won one, he was so close", six-times major champion Edberg told Tennis World.
"When you play a final, you win or you lose". It would be number one for me.