Paris: Novak Djokovic denied his participation in the Paris Masters was linked to a $1.6 million bonus.
The ATP bonus pool is split among the world's top dozen players at the end of the year, and No. 1-ranked Djokovic would have lost his entire share if he had not played in Paris, thus missing the last two Masters events.
"It was really somehow funny for me to see how people are coming up with that story," Djokovic said on Wednesday. "I even heard that I would get on the court and play a game just to get this money. I mean, this is ridiculous.
"I want to play well here. I want to get as far as possible, and then London (for next week's tour finals), which is the most important tournament in this part of the year for all of us."
Nevertheless, he protected his bonus by stepping on court on Wednesday then winning his opening match against Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-4, 6-3 in the second round.
Doubts about his participation emerged when Djokovic was treated twice for shoulder pain last Saturday while losing in the Basel semifinals, only his fourth defeat this year.
"I really wanted to come because I played at Basel a couple of matches, but I need more matches before London," Djokovic said.
"I'm definitely intending to finish the season strong. Maybe I'm physically paying for the long season that I had, and the unfortunate injury after the U.S. Open, the Davis Cup, and everything. So I think everything is kind of catching up with me now."
Djokovic stood to earn $2 million from the ATP bonus pool if he'd played in all eight Masters tournaments, but he lost $400,000 when he didn't appear in Shanghai last month because of injury. He would have lost all of it if he hadn't played in Paris.
Djokovic has won five of the Masters events this year, plus three of the four majors: Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open.
But injuries have marred the end of his season.
Before Basel, trouble in the same shoulder prompted his retirement in the Cincinnati Masters final in August against Andy Murray.
In the Davis Cup semifinals, Djokovic also suffered a back injury that sidelined him for six weeks.
"If I know that I'm physically good enough, in good condition to be competing, I will compete," he said. "If I don't, I will not compete. It's as simple as that."