Djokovic Celebrates 100 Weeks At No. 1
Emirates ATP Rankings Milestone
by James Buddell|
Today, Novak Djokovic starts his 100th week at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
He is the ninth player in ATP World Tour history to reach the milestone, joining Andre Agassi (101 weeks), Rafael Nadal (102), Bjorn Borg (109), John McEnroe (170), Jimmy Connors (268), Ivan Lendl (270), Pete Sampras (286) and record holder Roger Federer (302).
It is a remarkable achievement for a player who, less than four years ago, experienced his professional low. But his subsequent rise to the summit of men’s professional tennis in the space of 18 months, following a quarter-final exit to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the 2010 Australian Open, speaks volumes for his character, work ethic and talent.
"I was taught to dream big and to dream to be No. 1 in the world," says Djokovic. "It takes years of hard work and dedication. It is a long process to become a champion. Tennis is a very specific and unique sport, where you take all the credit or all the blame."
At present, Djokovic is facing one of his toughest-ever tests to finish year-end No. 1 for a third straight year. Rafael Nadal (11,015 points) has a 2,905 points lead over Djokovic (8,110) in the Emirates ATP Race To London, which not only determines the eight qualifiers for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, at London in November, but is also an indicator of who will finish year-end No. 1.
By conquering long-term maladies in mid-2010 with a gluten-free diet – which saw him drop 11 pounds in weight – the Serbian's off-court work started to reap dividends. He went on to put together a series of confidence-boosting victories that subsequently broke the duopoly of Federer and Nadal at the top on 4 July 2011. It was the day after his Wimbledon title success, which marked a career-high and fulfillment of a childhood dream.
That year, Djokovic won 10 titles (including three majors and five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns) and compiled a 41-match winning streak – the best start to a season since McEnroe’s 42 in 1984. He went 21-4 against Top 10 opponents in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
Though Federer regained No. 1 on 9 July 2012, for 17 weeks to surpass Sampras’ record of 286 weeks in top spot, Djokovic’s consistency on multiple surfaces ensured that he could not be denied a second stint (starting on 5 November 2012 and currently at 47 weeks) as the sport’s leader.
Today, however, Djokovic’s No. 1 milestone celebration will be tempered by the imminent threat of his US Open final conqueror, Nadal, who is close to re-claiming No. 1 for the first time since 3 July 2011. Just like Djokovic’s 2011 season, Nadal is putting together a season for the history books.
"There are still a lot of tournaments to come," says Djokovic, who has compiled a 120-20 match record and won seven titles from 13 finals as World No. 1. "Calculations are not on my mind right now. I am trying to feed on the confidence that I have."
In seven days’ time, the battle for year-end No. 1 will hit prime time. Djokovic will attempt to retain his Beijing crown at the China Open. Nadal, without any Emirates ATP Rankings points to defend, will be the No. 2 seed at the ATP World Tour 500 hard-court tournament.
If Djokovic is to extend his stay at No. 1, he must win the Beijing title for a fourth time in order to retain 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points. Should Nadal reach the final, he will once again reach the summit of men’s professional tennis.
Here’s a round-by-round breakdown for the Beijing tournament, starting on 30 September:
- Djokovic Will "Do Homework" To Prepare For First-Time Challenge
- Djokovic Poised To Make Australian Open History
- Federer's Desire Propels Him To 1000 Match Wins
- By The Numbers: Federer's 1000 Match Wins
- Djokovic Reflects On "Very Enjoyable Experience" In Doha Debut
- Djokovic Makes Forbes' 30 Under 30 Sports Brightest Stars List