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Novak Djokovic calls 7th year-end No. 1 finish "one of his biggest motivations", says the chance to break Sampras' record feels "surreal"

Novak Djokovic with the year-end number 1 title following his most prolific season in 2015
Novak Djokovic with the year-end number 1 title following his most prolific season in 2015
Iman Guha
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Novak Djokovic finished the 2020 tennis season as the year-end No. 1 for the sixth time in his illustrious career, equalling Pete Sampras' Open Era record. The Serb can now surpass Sampras' tally and seal a seventh year-end No. 1 finish by winning the Paris Masters this year.

Speaking to Eurosport ahead of the Masters 1000 event, Djokovic expressed his gratitude for being in a position to challenge for the record. The Serb said claiming sole ownership of the record was one of his "biggest motivations" over the rest of the season.

"Well, I'm very grateful to be in this position again, and that's one of the biggest motivations of why I will try to finish this season strong," Djokovic said.

Given Djokovic's track record in indoor tournaments, he will be the favorite to seal the No. 1 ranking either at Paris or the ATP Finals in Turin.

"I have two big opportunities here (and then) in Turin. You know, historically I have played well indoors. So hopefully I can use the good records in the indoor tournaments for this season again," Djokovic said.

Djokovic admitted it felt "surreal" to have the chance to surpass Pete Sampras, whom he considered his idol growing up.

"Let's see. Obviously, Pete Sampras has been one of my childhood role models, growing up, and matching his records (and) surpassing his records it feels a little bit surreal even nowadays," Djokovic mentioned.

"It was a huge relief because there was so much build-up" - Novak Djokovic on the aftermath of his US Open campaign

Novak Djokovic after his runner-up finish in the 2021 US Open.
Novak Djokovic after his runner-up finish in the 2021 US Open.

During the conversation with Eurosport, Novak Djokovic also spoke about the pressure and excitement he felt at the US Open this year. The Serb was gunning for a historic Calendar Slam, but fell just short, losing to Daniil Medvedev in the final in New York.

Djokovic started the year at 17 Grand Slams and ended with 20, equalling the tallies of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The Serb admitted that he was disappointed at losing the final in New York, but was still proud of the run that he had.

"You still can't avoid, you know, the tremendous pressure or the excitement of hopefully that point, reaching the history. It didn't happen in terms of the calendar slam for me," Djokovic remarked. "Three wins and one finals is something that is tremendous. I am very very proud of that achievement."

After the US Open final, Djokovic remarked that he was glad his pursuit of the Calendar Slam was finally over as it had taken an intense toll on him emotionally and physically.

The Serb reaffirmed that it was a "huge relief" to be free of the burden of creating history.

"As I mentioned in the post-match interview, it was a huge relief because there was so much build-up. And once it was done, it was done. Of course I was disappointed that I didn't win, but at the same time I was relieved that it was over," Djokovic stated.

Also Check Out: What is Pete Sampras Net Worth in 2022?


Edited by Arvind Sriram
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