When the ATP rankings will be updated today, a new chapter in tennis’s rich history will be simultaneously rewritten. For Novak Djokovic, it is a red letter day. He will surpass Rafael Nadal’s record of 141 weeks on top of the ATP rankings, dislodging the Spaniard from the sixth spot on the list of players who have held the ranking for the most duration.
Djokovic is all set to commence his 142nd week at the apex of the ATP World rankings and given his mammoth 4,310-point lead over second-ranked Roger Federer, it doesn’t seem plausible to contemplate the possibility of the Serb loosening his stranglehold on the top ranking.
Having been on top for a staggering 170 weeks, John McEnroe is on the fifth spot. The rampaging form that Djokovic has been in this year seems to indicate that going past McEnroe’s record shouldn’t prove too hard a task for the 8-time Grand Slam Champion.
Jimmy Connors (268 Weeks), Ivan Lendl (270 Weeks), Pete Sampras (286 Weeks) and Roger Federer (302 Weeks) make up the top four of the list.
‘Djokovic wants to be the best player ever’
“If you ask me personally, his goal, even though it seems far from now, is to pass Federer,” said Djokovic’s compatriot and old friend Janko Tipsarevic. “I think that his goal is to be the best player of all time.”
“I am so happy and proud that he has taken the sport to another level. He did it in the era of Federer and Nadal, the best tennis players in sport’s history. All of a sudden this guy comes out of nowhere and raises the level even higher, when everyone thought it couldn’t go higher than these two guys”, added Tipsarevic.
Having reclaimed the top ranking in July 2014, Djokovic has been nigh indestructible, the semi-final loss in the 2014 US Open to Kei Nishikori notwithstanding. With the tactical aid of Boris Becker and Marian Vajda, Djokovic has devised a new strategy that has enabled him to chalk up wins even when he has struggled with poor form. The ability to triumph, even when he is not in the best of form, many believe is the hallmark of a truly great player.
David Ferrer, for his part, believes that there is none better than Djokovic at the moment on the men’s circuit. “He's the best tennis player at the moment,” said Ferrer.
“He's playing with great confidence in his shots. His fitness and physique are unbelievable. He's very fast. He has everything – a very good range of shots – and is able to mentally focus on every point”, Ferrer pointed out.
Djokovic has been a year-end number one for three years, 2011, ‘12 and ‘14. Leading the rankings, it seems, means a lot to the Serb. However, as Jankovic points out, not much has changed in Djokovic the person.
“This guy stays around the same people he grew up with. You could see that on his wedding day [to Jelena on 10 July 2014]. All the people he used to hang out with and he continues to hang out with were there. As a person, nothing has changed one bit. Only his ranking has changed”, concluded Tipsarevic.