World No. 1 Novak Djokovic believes it would be 'amazing' to tie his idol Pete Sampras' record of being the year-end World No. 1 on six occasions. Speaking at a press meeting in Vienna, Djokovic also reinforced his desire to break Roger Federer's record of 310 weeks at World No. 1, while at the same time distancing himself from the GOAT debate.
"I leave the GOAT debate to others, it is not my place... I am trying to keep the No. 1 ranking. (Pete) Sampras has been my idol growing up and it would be amazing to tie his record." Novak Djokovic said.
Novak Djokovic could wrap up the year-end World No. 1 ranking by winning two matches at this week's Erste Bank Open in Vienna, which includes seven of the world's top 10 players. The Serb will also break Roger Federer's record for most weeks at World No. 1 in men's tennis if he retains the top spot till 8 March 2021.
He looks to be in a good position to do that given that he won't lose the ranking points he gained for winning the ATP Cup, the Australian Open or the Dubai event as part of the revised ATP ranking system in place due to the global pandemic.
"This temporary ranking system is on until March, for me personally it is great because I have won a lot of points," Djokovic said. "It would be a different story for me, but it was the same for everybody. I hope that I can reach historic No. 1 in March, but everything is unpredictable."
Filip Krajinovic has a similar style of play to mine: Novak Djokovic on his first round opponent in Vienna
Novak Djokovic will open his campaign in Vienna against fellow Serb and good friend Filip Krajinovic, whom he also defeated at the Italian Open last month. The two players are often seen practising together, and they did the same in Belgrade just a few days prior to the draw coming out.
"I practiced with Filip (Krajinovic) and we joked that we could be drawn in the first round," Djokovic said. "Chances were slim, but here we go. We have a similar style of play, he likes hardcourts best, he can play quickly and he is very talented."
Novak Djokovic also spoke about the possibility of playing US Open champion and local hero Dominic Thiem, who is the second seed. The Serb showered praise on Thiem for winning a well-deserved maiden Slam last month, but added that a potential final between the top two seeds is way down the road.
"The field is extremely strong," Djokovic said. "I respect Dominic so much, he deserved the Grand Slam title more than anybody else with the way he works. But it’s a long way to the finals, we want it, but we have to take one match at the time."
Playing in Vienna for the first time since 2007, Novak Djokovic is hoping to gain additional ranking points from the event as he looks to seal the year-end No. 1 spot. The Serb is grateful to the organizers for giving him a wild card, and also for the opportunity to compete during such difficult times.
"The last time I was here, I won the tournament and I have had quite a lot of support," Djokovic said. "Thank you for giving me a wild card. They have great hotel and courts, great food, we have all the conditions we need to compete. It is fantastic that we have the opportunity to compete, we have to be grateful for that."Published 25 Oct 2020, 20:08 IST