Djokovic: If Murray Gets To No. 1, He Deserves It
Serbian heads to London to improve recent stretch
If Andy Murray reaches World No. 1, he will have earned it, said the man Murray would replace at the top of the Emirates ATP Rankings. The way Murray has raised his game in the past 12 months, Novak Djokovic said, is “quite extraordinary”.
“Undoubtably much respect for what he has done,” said Djokovic, who first played Murray when they were both 11 years old. “All I can say is that he's deservedly in the position he's in at the moment.”
Djokovic, who has been No. 1 for 122 consecutive weeks, lost to Marin Cilic 6-4, 7-6(2) on Friday during their BNP Paribas Masters quarter-final. Had Djokovic reached the final in Paris for the fourth consecutive year, he would have stayed No. 1. Djokovic has spent 223 weeks overall at the top spot.
But his early exit opens the door for Murray, who now controls his fate. If Murray wins his semi-final on Saturday against Milos Raonic, he'll ascend to No. 1 on Monday for the first time in his career.
The Briton has spent 76 weeks at the No. 2 spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings, and if he does reach No. 1 on Monday, he'll own the ATP World Tour record for most time between becoming No. 2 and No. 1, having debuted at No. 2 on 17 August, 2009.
“In the end of the day, this is sport. You can't always expect to win,” Djokovic said. “I'm not too concerned about how the future will go for me. I'm just living in the moment, and that's all.”
Djokovic again talked about how he's working through the emotions of his incredible past two seasons, including his start to 2016, which saw him capture three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles – Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid – along with the career Grand Slam by winning Roland Garros.
“It took a lot out of me, and it has put some things in perspective and, obviously, raised some questions in which direction I want to go to. So I'm in the process at the moment, and it's going to obviously take some time really for me to redefine all these things,” he said. “But I'm still here, and I feel like I'm on the right path. I'm in a better state of mind than I was some time ago. That's all I'm thinking about right now.”
Djokovic last won a title in July at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, defeating Kei Nishikori at the Masters 1000 event. Before Paris, his three prior tournaments had gone as follows: Rio Olympics, lost first round to Juan Martin del Potro; US Open, lost in the final to Stan Wawrinka; Shanghai Rolex Masters, lost in the semi-finals to Roberto Bautista Agut.
“I have to get to that state of mind where I'm able to perform as well as I want to match after match. I was not able to find that level for the last couple of months,” Djokovic said.
He has been hampered by injuries at times during the past few months, and he confirmed that his right arm was bothering him against Cilic. “But again, it is what it is,” Djokovic said. “I'm not the only one who goes through pain. Pain is part of the game.”
Djokovic will look to improve on his recent stretch at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be held 13-20 November at The O2 in London. The Serbian will be going for his fifth straight title and his sixth overall. Djokovic also will be trying to finish year-end No. 1 for the fourth time.