In the final months of the 2020 season, Novak Djokovic claimed that the two biggest goals of his career were breaking the record for most Grand Slam titles and breaking the record for most weeks spent as World No. 1. The ATP has now confirmed that Djokovic is guaranteed to accomplish the second of those feats, following Rafael Nadal's shock defeat at the hands of Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarterfinal of the Australian Open.
On 8 March 2021, Novak Djokovic will surpass Roger Federer's record of 310 weeks spent as World No. 1 - irrespective of his or any other player's results.
Djokovic will start his 311th week as World No. 1 on 8 March, making him the owner of one of the most coveted records in tennis. Moreover, the Serb also has a great chance of winning his 18th Grand Slam this week, which would bring him within just two titles of the all-time record of 20.
Rafael Nadal was the only player who had a theoretical chance of supplanting Novak Djokovic from the No. 1 ranking before 8 March. But Nadal's loss to Tsitsipas on Wednesday has put paid to those hopes; as things stand, the Spaniard has no chance of catching up to Djokovic before April.
Can anybody stop Novak Djokovic from winning the 2021 Australian Open?
Novak Djokovic has worked his way into form at Melbourne, a venue that has witnessed the highest highs of his career. The Serb was undefeated in the singles matches he played during the group stages of the ATP Cup, and has now fended off some serious injury issues to sail into the semis of the Australian Open.
Novak Djokovic faced a seemingly severe abdominal injury in his third-round encounter against Taylor Fritz, during which he dropped a two-set lead before winning in five. Djokovic also looked a little under the weather during his next two matches, but brought out his trademark ability to perform brilliantly under pressure to remain afloat.
The 33-year-old defeated the big-serving Milos Raonic in the fourth round and World No. 7 Alexander Zverev in the quarterfinals, playing clutch tennis when he needed to and serving incredibly under pressure. He now has a seemingly routine semifinal against qualifier Aslan Karatsev, which suggests that a ninth Australian Open title is not far from the Serb's grasp.
That said, both Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas - one of whom will be in the final - are looking hungry for success at the big stage. Medvedev in particular has been supremely impressive over the past few months, and is currently on a 19-match winning streak - with 11 of those wins coming against top 10 players.
Daniil Medvedev's defensive skills and composure under pressure have earned him comparisons with Novak Djokovic himself. And the Russian's efficient and flat groundstrokes are finding immense success on the quicker courts in Melbourne this year.
Although Rafael Nadal's exit has ensured that Novak Djokovic is the favorite on paper for the title this week, his route to an 18th Major is unlikely to be completely smooth.