For a while now, 17-time Major winner Novak Djokovic has been on the hunt for one of the most important records in tennis - most weeks as the No. 1 ranked player in the world. Djokovic has spent a total of 283 weeks as the top-ranked player in the men's singles category, which is the third most in the history of the sport.
The Serb's reign at the top has been spread across nearly a decade; he first rose to the World No. 1 spot after Wimbledon 2011. Djokovic is currently three weeks behind 14-time Major winner Pete Sampras in the all-time list; the American had spent 286 weeks at the apex.
Since the computerized ATP rankings were first employed in August 1973, Roger Federer has spent the most weeks (310) as the No. 1 player in the world. But Novak Djokovic is now well on course to surpass not just Sampras, but also Federer in this elite list.
The Serb's bid to be ranked World No. 1 for the most weeks in the history of tennis has been bolstered by Dominic Thiem's exit from the Western & Southern Open. As reported by the ATP Media Info handle on Twitter, Thiem's second-round loss yesterday has ensured that Djokovic will, on 21 September 2020, pass Sampras for second most weeks at No. 1.
Dominic Thiem had an outside chance to grab the No. 1 spot by winning the Cincinnati Masters and then going deep at the US Open, where he had lost in the first round last year. The Austrian is anyway expected to do well in the European Clay swing, so it was the North American hardcourt swing that was the litmus test of Thiem's ambition to climb higher up the ATP rankings.
But by stumbling in his opening round match versus Filip Krajinovic, the World No. 3 can't add any points to his tally - and thus can't overtake Novak Djokovic for at least another month. Meanwhile Djokovic is now the runaway favorite to win the Western & Southern Open and create an even bigger gap between him and Thiem in the rankings.
Novak Djokovic can break Roger Federer's record by March 2021
With World No. 2 Rafael Nadal having no more points to gain this year and Dominic Thiem having failed to add to his points tally at the Cincinnati Masters, Novak Djokovic will be favored to maintain his position at the top of the rankings until the end of the year.
It is to be noted that the Serb was also robbed of 22 weeks in his tally this year, when the ATP rankings were frozen from 23rd March to 23rd August due to the global health pandemic. In simpler terms, if not for the COVID-19 pandemic, Novak Djokovic would've and passed Sampras' mark already.
The upshot of all of this is that Djokovic could pass Roger Federer's record of 310 weeks as World No. 1 on 8 March 2021. He will likely have to defend his Australian Open title to do that, but given his history in Melbourne only a brave person would bet against it.
Novak Djokovic had returned to the top of the ATP Rankings for a fifth stint in January this year after capturing a record-extending 8th Australian Open title. Since then Djokovic has been on quite a romp; in fact, he hasn't lost a match in 2020 yet.
If he continues at this pace, breaking Federer's record in March next year would be just a formality.Published 25 Aug 2020, 20:06 IST