Novak Dojokovic breaks world No 1 record
Novak Djokovic today becomes the longest-standing male player at the top of tennis’s world rankings. The 33-year-old Serb appears at the top of this week’s ranking list for the 311th week of his career, beating the record of 310 set in 2018 by Roger Federer.
HEAD’s leading tennis brand ambassador has been the most consistent champion of the past decade, winning 17 of the 40 Grand Slam titles contested since January 2011. He picked up his 18th major title last month, outclassing Daniil Medvedev to take the Australian Open.
And with Medvedev fighting with Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem for the No 2 ranking, it seems likely Djokovic will stay at the top for several more months, extending a record that might never be beaten.
“Now after achieving the historic No 1, for the longest number of weeks at No 1, it’s going to be a relief for me,” Djokovic said. “When you are going for the No 1 ranking, you have to be playing the entire season and you have to be playing well, you have to play all the tournaments.”
There is no benchmark for measuring who is the greatest tennis player of all time. The number of Grand Slam singles titles is often considered a good guide, but with Djokovic just two behind Federer and Nadal, it’s possible all three will end their careers on 20, or very close to each other.
This is where other factors could come in, and why Djokovic’s latest milestone is significant. With a player keeping ranking points for 52 weeks (in normal circumstances, it’s up to two years at present because of special Covid-related rules), rankings reflect consistency rather than brilliance on any one day. There are players who have won major titles but never got to the top of the rankings, and there are those who reach No 1 but never win a Slam. Yet no-one has yet spent six years at the top.
But that will be Djokovic’s next milestone. On 15 March he will become the first man to top the rankings for an aggregate of six years, a remarkable achievement in an era of so many all-time great players.
Djokovic played with a HEAD racket as a child. He switched to another maker in his early professional days, but came back to HEAD at the start of 2009, which means 17 of his 18 Grand Slam titles have been won with a HEAD racket.
At 33 years old and with only minor injuries since he needed elbow surgery in 2018, many in the tennis world expect Djokovic to continue winning majors and dominating the biggest tournaments. But a focus on winning more majors could jeopardise his chances of staying at the top of the rankings.
“I have to be smarter with my schedule and peak at the right time,” he said after the Australian Open. “I don't feel like I'm old or tired or anything like that. But I know that, biologically and realistically, things are different than they were 10 years ago. Obviously time away from the family is definitely something that has an impact on me, so from now I’m going to focus all my attention on Slams mostly.”
The record of 20 major titles remains within reach, but even with tweaks in his schedule, his No 1 position seems unthreatened, and is likely to remain so for the next few months.