The 9 oldest No 1s in men’s tennis: Novak Djokovic breaks Roger Federer’s record

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic at the 2023 ATP Finals
Novak Djokovic celebrates at the 2023 ATP Finals

Novak Djokovic has claimed yet another record previously held by Roger Federer as he has surpassed his great rival to become the oldest ATP world No 1 ever.

Federer had held the record as the oldest world No 1 in history since February 2018, but the legendary Serbian has now moved past the Swiss Maestro.

9. Pete Sampras – 29 years 3 months 1 day

American legend Pete Sampras first became world No 1 in the ATP Rankings on April 12, 1983 and his final stint ended on November 13, 2000 – just a couple of months after he turned 29.

The 14-time Grand Slam winner spent a total of 286 weeks at No 1 and held the record for most weeks at the top of the rankings until one Roger Federer broke that milestone.

8. John Newcombe – 30 years 2 months 5 days

Australian John Newcombe won seven majors and he competed in both the amateur and Open Eras with two of his Grand Slams coming before the sport turned professional in 1968.

He first reached No 1 in the rankings in the Open Era on 3 June 1974 while his final spell was on 28 July of the same year. In total, the Australian spent eight weeks at number one.

7. Andy Murray – 30 years 3 months 5 days

Andy Murray enjoyed one of the best-ever seasons in tennis in 2016 as he won Wimbledon, the ATP Finals, gold at the Rio Games, three ATP Masters 1000 titles and three ATP 500 events. Oh, and he also finished runner-up at the Australian Open and Roland Garros.

Murray was 29 years and 176 days old when he climbed to the top of the ATP Rankings for the first time on November 7, 2016 and he remained No 1 for 41 consecutive weeks before his stint came to an end on August 20, 2017.

MORE: 13 players with the longest-winning streaks in men’s tennis: Roger Federer 6th

6. Ivan Lendl – 30 years 5 months 5 days

Ivan Lendl’s career spanned from 1978 until 1994 and during that time he had eight different spells at No 1 with the first starting on February 28, 1983 and the final one ending on August 12, 1990.

The Czechoslovakia-born Lendl – who won 94 titles – spent a total of 270 weeks at No 1, which was a record until Sampras overtook him in 1999.

5. Jimmy Connors – 30 years 10 months 1 day

American Connors still holds the record for most singles trophies won during a career as he has 109 titles to his name.

The eight-time Grand Slam winner’s first stint at No 1 in the rankings kicked off July 29, 1974 and he remained top for 160 consecutive weeks – a then record. He had another eight stints for a total of 268 weeks with his final day at No 1 coming on June 20, 1983.

4. Andre Agassi – 33 years 4 months 9 days

Andre Agassi is the only player to have won the Career Super Slam (Career Grand Slam, Olympic singles gold and the year-end championships) and he is one of only nine players to spend more than 100 weeks at No 1 in the rankings.

The eight-time major winner enjoyed a 20-year career that started in 1986 and he first reached No 1 on April 10, 1995 before his final stint finished on September 7, 2003.

3. Rafael Nadal – 33 years 7 months 30 days

The great Rafael Nadal first became world No 1 at the age of 22 years 2 months 15 days on August 18, 2008, and enjoyed eight different spells at the top of the ATP Rankings.

In total, he has spent 209 weeks at the top of the rankings and was the second-oldest No 1 behind Federer until Djokovic overtook him. His final spell at number one ended on February 2, 2020.

2. Roger Federer – 36 years 10 months 16 days

Roger Federer had held the record as the oldest world No 1 since February 19, 2018 as he overtook Agassi when he was 36 years, 6 months, 10 days. He spent eight weeks at the top and traded spots with Nadal several times before his final day at No 1 on June 24 that year.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner had also set a record for most weeks at No 1 with 310, but Djokovic has since obliterated that tally.

1. Novak Djokovic – 36 years 10 months 17 days (as on April 8, 2024)

Novak Djokovic has overtaken Federer to become the oldest world No 1 in history as he turned 36 years, 10 months, 17 days on April 8, 2024. Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz will not be able to overtake Djokovic in the rankings before April 15, meaning his record will be extended by at least another week.

The Serbian also holds the record for the oldest year-end No 1 as he was 36 years, 7 months, 9 days at when he topped the rankings on the final day of 2023.

In addition, he has the record for most weeks at No 1 as he currently sits on a staggering 420 weeks – more than 100 weeks clear of Federer in second place – and that number is set to grow.