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Rafael Nadal & health issues are the only 2 things likely to prevent Novak Djokovic from adding more weeks at No. 1: Jim Courier

Novak Djokovic at the Erste Bank Open tennis tournament in Vienna, Austria.
Novak Djokovic at the Erste Bank Open tennis tournament in Vienna, Austria.
Modified 28 Oct 2020, 14:36 IST

Former tennis player Jim Courier believes Novak Djokovic can remain World No. 1 for a while longer if he remains focused and healthy. He is also of the opinion that rival Rafael Nadal is the Serb's biggest threat in his bid to add more weeks and years at the top spot.

Novak Djokovic is aiming to finish this year as World No. 1 and tie Pete Sampras' record for ending the year at the top spot on six occasions. The 33-year-old has also stated that he wants to break Roger Federer's record for most weeks (310) at No. 1, which he can do by staying there till 8th March 2021.

"I think Novak Djokovic can be number 1 for much longer if he stays focused and healthy. There are only two things that seem likely to prevent him from adding more weeks and years at No. 1: his health and Rafael Nadal," Courier said.

Djokovic has a good chance to end the season as World No. 1 this week in Vienna, where he won his first round match on Tuesday.

Rafael Nadal recently beat Novak Djokovic in the Roland Garros final, and he also won two Majors in 2019 to match the Serb's haul for the season. In that respect, the Spaniard has indeed been eating into Djokovic's ranking points over the last couple of years.

If Rafael Nadal continues dominating the French Open and sneaks in a few other big titles here and there, he could well - as Courier pointed out - be a bigger threat to Novak Djokovic's No. 1 reign than anything else.

Novak Djokovic's achievements while playing alongside Federer & Nadal are as hard to comprehend as Sampras' year-end No. 1 record: Courier

Novak Djokovic during his first round win at the Erste Bank Open tournament in Vienna, Austria.
Novak Djokovic during his first round win at the Erste Bank Open tournament in Vienna, Austria.

Courier, who was one of the major rivals of Pete Sampras during his time, believes that the American's record of finishing the year as World No. 1 for six consecutive seasons was an incredible physical and mental feat. But he added that Djokovic's achievement is equally impressive given that the Serb is playing in the same era as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

“Pete’s six consecutive years is incredible and required not only supreme skill but also physical and mental consistency,” Courier said. “Novak’s ability to carve out his own history while playing alongside Federer and Nadal is every bit as difficult and hard to comprehend as Pete’s six years in a row. There’s no doubt that Novak has been the dominant force in men’s tennis again this season. The numbers don’t lie.”

With Rafael Nadal tying Roger Federer's record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles in men's tennis, and Novak Djokovic three behind at 17 Majors, there has been a raging debate among tennis fans and experts recently on who is the Greatest of All Time (GOAT).


But Jim Courier, a four-time Grand Slam singles champion himself, feels that due consideration should also be given to weeks at No. 1 and number of years ended as World No. 1 in addition to Majors won.

“When evaluating the all-time greats, there can be a tendency to overvalue singles Majors won,” Courier said. "Weeks at number one, as well as year-end number one finishes, are also very significant aspects of evaluating all-time greats from my perspective.”
Published 28 Oct 2020, 14:10 IST
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