Dubai Duty Free Tennis: Djokovic relishes the taste of his new milestone

Djokovic breaks Steffi Graf's record for most weeks as world number one


Leslie Wilson Jr

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Novak Djokovic celebrates with a cake after becoming the first player to top the world tennis rankings for an incredible 378 weeks. — Twitter
Novak Djokovic celebrates with a cake after becoming the first player to top the world tennis rankings for an incredible 378 weeks. — Twitter

Published: Mon 27 Feb 2023, 10:14 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Feb 2023, 10:16 PM

Novak Djokovic has amassed several awards and scaled heights during his glittering career, but on Monday the Serbian superstar reached another spectacular sporting milestone when he became the first player to top the world tennis rankings for an incredible 378 weeks.

It is the longest tenure that any player, male or female, has ever resided in the coveted No. 1 spot.

In doing so, the 35-year-old, 22-time Grand Slam champion eclipsed another legend of the sport, Steffi Graf.

Widely recognised as one of the greatest women’s players of all time, Graf won 22 major titles and held the No. 1 spot for a record 377 weeks.

Djokovic took to social media, where he has over 12 million Instagram fans and 9 million on Twitter, to salute Graf and express his feelings on reaching another peak in his career.

"Of course with your love and great strength that you have given me over the years, I’ve managed to achieve many fantastic achievements throughout my career," Djokovic said in a video that he posted for the fans.

"The most recent one [is] breaking the record [with] 378 weeks on No. 1 [in the] rankings, surpassing one of the greatest, most legendary tennis players — both men and women — that ever played, Steffi Graf. So I’m flattered, obviously extremely proud and happy for this achievement."

Djokovic was already the holder of the record for the most weeks as No. 1 in the history of the ATP Rankings (since 1973) when he passed Swiss great Roger Federer’s mark of 310 weeks in March 2021.

The Serbian, who is bidding to win a sixth title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championship, currently has 6,980 points in the ATP Rankings, 2000 of which came courtesy of his record-extending 10th Australian Open title.

Djokovic, who first tasted the success of being world No. 1 at the age of 24 years and 43 days on July 4, 2011, revealed that he never imagined that he could achieve longevity in his career.

"I could not have imagined it at that point, to be honest," he said on Sunday during a press conference at the Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, official Dubai Duty-Free Tournament host.

"I was dreaming as a kid to be Wimbledon champion, to be No. 1 in the world. I achieved those dreams in 2011. After that, of course, I wanted more. I still want more achievements," he said.

"Of course, I'm driven by the goals. I'm as dedicated to the sport as anybody else. I obviously know that it's not handed to me, that I have to earn it.

"Of course, it's surreal in a way to be that many weeks world No. 1, to match Steffi Graf, who is one of the all-time greats of our sport, both men and women. Just being amongst these legendary names is flattering. Of course, I'm very proud of it," he added.

Another record that awaits Djokovic is a 23rd major title. Currently the Serb is tied with Spaniard Rafael Nadal at 22 wins, a mark that could be eclipsed by either player at the French Open in June.

Djokovic is also among an elite club of 28 players to hold the top spot in the world rankings.

Players with the most weeks as world number one

Novak Djokovic 378

Steffi Graf 377

Martina Navratilova 332

Serena Williams 319

Roger Federer 310


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