Novak Djokovic reflects on historic 7th year-end No. 1 finish, says he feels "blessed and grateful to be in this position"

Novak Djokovic with a record-breaking 37th Masters title and sealing his 7th year-end number one finish
Novak Djokovic with a record-breaking 37th Masters title and sealing his 7th year-end number one finish
Iman Guha

Novak Djokovic has been on a tear this season, chasing down, equalling and eventually breaking records that previously stood tall in the men's game. By winning the Paris Masters last Sunday, the Serb guaranteed himself a seventh year-end No. 1 finish, breaking Pete Sampras's long-standing record of six.

In an interview with Eurosport, the 34-year-old reflected on his journey thus far. Djokovic said he was thankful to be in the position that he is, adding that it felt "surreal" to break the record of his childhood hero, Sampras.

"Breaking the record of Pete Sampras, who was my childhood hero, growing up. You know, he was the one that I looked up to the most. He was the one that got me going with tennis," Djokovic said. "To break his record, at times, feels surreal. You know, to be really where I am. And I am blessed and grateful to be in this position."

The World No. 1, however, was quick to point out that it's difficult to understand the magnitude of such an achievement when he is still competing on the tour.

"But it feels difficult to comprehend, I think, the magnitude of all the achievements while you're still an active player. Because you always have to look for the next challenge - what's the next tournament - so you keep going. I guess I'll be able to enjoy the success a bit more once I stop playing," Djokovic explained.

According to Djokovic, winning the Australian Open at the start of the season helps set the tone for the rest of the campaign.

"When you start with the Australian Open win at the beginning of the year, in the first month of the season - which I have been very fortunate to do so for nine years - that puts you already in a driving position for the year-end number one for the race," Djokovic noted.

The Serb feels he has been able to consistently produce his best tennis at the most important events on the calendar, which, in turn, has helped him finish seasons as the top-ranked player.

"Accumulating the most points at the grand slams and Masters 1000 events, that's what counts the most, so to say. And I've been lucky to really play my best tennis at the events where I could collect as many points - that actually enabled me to be in this position," Djokovic said.

Novak Djokovic says he spent "quality time" with his family after US Open heartbreak

Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev at the presentaion ceremony following the US Open final
Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev at the presentaion ceremony following the US Open final

During the interview, Novak Djokovic also reflected on the final few months of the 2021 season, which included his chase for the Calendar Grand Slam.

The Serb remarked that since he had not played as many tournaments as his nearest rivals, he needed to finish the season on a strong note after losing the US Open final to Daniil Medvedev.

"I have not played as many tournaments as most of my other rivals. But Medvedev winning the US Open this year - he was close. So you know, I wanted to end the season strong," Djokovic said.

The 34-year-old said he was supremely confident of his chances ahead of the indoor hardcourt season, having historically performed well at the Paris Masters and the ATP Finals. The Serb has won Paris six times (including this season) and the ATP Finals on five occasions.

"Historically I had plenty of success indoors; I played well, won the title here in Paris Bercy five times and in the season finale - the World Tour Finals - as well. Over the years, I played very well. So I kind of liked my chances, coming into the indoor season finale," Djokovic remarked.

Djokovic explained how taking a small break from competitive tennis after the US Open final was important for him. Besides being free of the immense pressure he was under while pursuing of the Calendar Slam, he also got to spend some quality time with his family.

"I had almost two months of a break, without competitive tennis. So that was positive in a way that I could have some quality time with my family," Djokovic continued. "I can rejuvenate after what was the emotionally draining season - particularly with the pressures of the Calendar Slam."

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Edited by Arvind Sriram

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