Novak Djokovic reaches incredible new ATP Rankings milestone to cement GOAT status

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic may be reaching the final chapters of his incredible career, yet he is continuing to separate himself from his rivals in the battle to go down in history as the greatest player of all-time.

Djokovic’s army of passionate supporters around the world is quick to dismiss any suggestion that their man does not deserve to be recognised as the GOAT of tennis and his latest rankings milestone cements that argument.

The Serbian looks certain to finish his career with the most Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis history, with his US Open win last September taking his total in the game’s biggest tournaments to 24.

Djokovic has also won more ATP 1000 titles than any other player and is the outstanding leader in the all-time prize money list in the men’s game.

Yet longevity and consistency of performance are measured by the ATP Rankings and this week sees Djokovic reach a remarkable 414 weeks in the No 1 position.

The significance of that figure is that it means he has now been on top of the rankings for precisely two years more than his nearest rival, Swiss maestro Roger Federer.

It seemed as if Federer would hold the all-time record for most weeks at No 1 for many years when he dominated the game in the mid-2000s, but Djokovic moved past his record in March 2021.

Since then, he has reigned supreme at the top of the men’s game, with Carlos Alcaraz’s brief spells as world No 1 substantially aided by Djokovic’s absence from the ATP Tour for extended periods in 2022 and 2023 due to his Covid vaccine status.

He will celebrate his 37th birthday later this year, but Djokovic looks certain to hang on to his world No 1 ranking for most of this year as his rivals simply have too much ground to make up on the evergreen champion.

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Djokovic did not play at the ATP 1000 Indian Wells or Miami tournaments last year as he was not allowed to enter America due to Covid vaccine restrictions, so he has a chance to challenge for 2,000 fresh ranking points next month.

He has a big pool of ranking points to defend as he looks to retain his French Open title in June and will then head to Wimbledon defending plenty of ranking points following his defeat against Carlos Alcaraz in last year’s final at the All England Club.

Djokovic then has 2,000 ranking points to defend at the US Open and plenty more after his ATP Finals win in Turin at the end of the season.

The dominant player in men’s tennis recently insisted he is no longer focused on retaining the world No 1 title, as his focus is now on Grand Slam titles.

“I don’t feel like I’m chasing anything now. I feel like I’m creating. That’s kind of a mindset I have,” said Djokovic.

“Of course my greatest motivation is still love for the game. I really like competing. So as simple as that. Then, you know, I always have goals, you know, and to win another slam, to be No. 1 again, to finish the year as No. 1. Those are let’s say the big goals.

“I still feel young in my own body. It’s serving me well. I won three out of four slams. You know, there is obviously differences with different tennis players in the past that, you know, some of them think that it’s best to leave tennis when you’re at the top.

“Some of them think when you figure out you can’t win the biggest tournaments anymore and that you’re losing to the young guys, then you leave it. I’m more in the second group.

“I have said this before but my focus now is on Grand Slams. To stay at world No 1, you need to play many events and I won’t be doing that at this stage of my career. The ambition now is to peak for the biggest tournaments.”

If Djokovic can get on a winning run in 2024, there is a realistic chance that he will be close to 450 weeks at the top of the rankings by the end of this year.

He might even be eyeing up the remarkable prospect of 500 weeks as world No 1 before he hangs up his racket for the last time.