Heritage Celebration Honours No.1s
New York, U.S.A.
by ATP Staff|
Champions paid tribute to generations past and present as an unprecedented gathering of No. 1s took place at the ATP Heritage programme's No. 1 Celebration on Friday night.
The event, which took place at the Waldorf Astoria in New York, marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Ilie Nastase, who became the first ATP World No. 1 on 23 August 1973, was present to be honoured on the night, along with successors John Newcombe, Jimmy Connors, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier, Marcelo Rios, Carlos Moya, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Gustavo Kuerten, Lleyton Hewitt, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Andy Roddick, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The four decades' worth of No. 1s shared a stage - and some fond memories as well.
Reflecting on what it means to hold the No. 1 ranking, Djokovic said, "It's definitely an ultimate goal for every athlete, not just tennis players.
"Growing up, in early childhood, you are inspired to show that love and appreciation and passion towards the sport, and of course there is this big drive - waking up every morning, working so hard, developing skills - to be No. 1 in the world. 'Not many players have achieved that and to sit with fellow champions... I'm really honoured to be here."
Watch the No. 1 Celebration On Demand
Roger Federer thanked those that came before him, like childhood idol Stefan Edberg. "It was important for me to have someone to look up to," said Federer, the record-holder for most weeks at No. 1. ''I know there's been a huge sacrifice at the players' level, just this generation and the players sitting here tonight, and even before that.
"We've put such huge effort in the game, and that's a platform we can enjoy today.''
Preceding No. 1s, meanwhile, praised the most recent trio of No.1s - Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic. "These guys are carrying the torch so beautifully," said McEnroe, with Gustavo Kuerten and John Newcombe echoing his words.
Watch highlights of the event
The evening, part of the broader ATP Heritage programme, also included a tribute to former ATP Executive Chairman and President Brad Drewett, who passed away in May following a battle with Motor Neurone Disease. Drewett established the ATP Heritage programme, which honours the 25 players who have reached the pinnacle since the ranking system was introduced in 1973.
"It means a lot for me to be here and to be honouring Brad's legacy," said Hewitt.
“Brad cherished the history of the ATP and men’s professional tennis in general,” said Mark Young, CEO ATP Americas. “Tonight’s celebration is a reflection of that. It was his vision to see all the No. 1 players gathered together as we honoured their achievements.”