Djokovic breaks all-time ATP rankings record

 - Alex Sharp

The 18-time Grand Slam champion has accumulated a record 311 weeks as the men’s world No.1

Novak Djokovic smiling and blinking during Roland-Garros 2020.©Cédric Lecocq/FFT

“From seven, eight years old, I had already said I want to be No.1 in the world.”

Novak Djokovic has achieved that and so, so much more.

Alongside his 943 match wins and 82 titles, the 33-year-old has now clinched a prestigious record.

A total of six years at the top of the game

On Monday, the 18-time Grand Slam champion overtook ‘big three’ rival Roger Federer with his 311th career week in top spot of the ATP rankings.

The Serbian first attained the No.1 ranking back in July 2011 and over five stints has spent a total of six years as the men’s finest player.

Federer on 310, Pete Sampras leading men’s tennis for 286 weeks, Ivan Lendl 270 weeks and Jimmy Connors just behind on 268. A pretty impressive roll of honour, perhaps Djokovic could now surpass WTA record-holder Steffi Graf? The German finished with 377 weeks at the summit of the women’s rankings.

Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open 2021©Paul Zimmer/FFT

"It gives me the chills"

The 33-year-old’s “rollercoaster” ninth Australian Open triumph in February made it almost inevitable Djokovic would break the rankings record. This week he could finally bask in his glory, posting a heartfelt message on Instagram.

“As a kid, I would dream of lifting trophies and being best in the world. The hope was so powerful that it manifested itself against all the odds- finances, injuries, doubts, competing in the era of the biggest champions the sport has ever seen,” wrote the Serbian, a record equal six-time year-end No.1 alongside Sampras.

“I’m humbled to walk the path of our tennis legends and giants. To know I’ve earned my place among them gives me chills. It’s proof that anything is possible if your heart is in it, and you’re championed by a team that never loses faith in you.

“I’m so happy knowing that not only have I reached a huge milestone doing what I love to do, but that I also have many more years ahead of me playing my favourite sport in the world.”

Novak Djokovic and his team in the locker after havinw won Roland-Garros 2016© Nicolas Gouhier/Pool/FFT

And still counting

The ambition to break more records, to reach more era-defining milestones was portrayed back in Melbourne, where a herculean effort enabled him to close the gap to Federer and Rafael Nadal (20) to just two majors.

“Now, after achieving the historic No.1 for the longest weeks at No.1, it's going to be a relief for me because I'm going to focus all my attention on slams mostly. When you are going for No. 1 rankings, you kind of have to be playing the entire season and you have to be playing well, you have to play all the tournaments,” reflected Djokovic Down Under, transparent in his pursuit.

“Whether I think about winning more slams and breaking records, of course I do. And most of my attention and my energy from this day forward, until I retire from tennis, is going to be directed in majors, trying to win more major trophies.”

With “many more years ahead,” Federer, Nadal and the improving prodigies have an almighty task to stop ‘Mr No.1’ accomplishing his major mission.