Novak Djokovic says breaking Steffi Graf’s report of 377 weeks at primary within the rankings on Monday is “surreal” and that he’s proud to surpass one of many sport’s all-time greats.
The Serb will spend his 378th week on the high of males’s tennis competing in Dubai, the place he’ll play his first event since capturing a tenth Australian Open crown and record-equalling twenty second Grand Slam title final month.
It’s the equal of greater than seven calendar years on the high.
“I nonetheless need extra achievements,” Djokovic informed reporters in Dubai on Sunday. “I’m pushed by the objectives. I’m as devoted to the game actually as anyone else.
“After all, it’s surreal in a method to be that many weeks world primary, to match Steffi Graf, who is likely one of the all-time greats of our sport, each women and men. Simply being amongst these legendary names is flattering. I’m very pleased with it.”
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It’s a outcome few thought they’d ever see as Boris Becker mentioned he didn’t imagine Graf’s report would ever be surpassed.
“It’s an unbelievable achievement,” Becker informed Eurosport. “I by no means thought this report may very well be damaged.
“As a fellow German I’d have wished for Steffi Graf to be the all-time chief, however being an in depth pal of Novak as nicely, I’m not too sad both.
“Novak is a improbable man and a fantastic champion. Data are supposed to be damaged. Ultimately all data can be damaged, however that is one for the tennis historical past books.
“And guess what, it’s nonetheless counting. I feel Novak can be primary for a number of weeks extra earlier than any individual will take his crown.”
Former World No. 7 Barbara Schett mentioned the outcome was “unbelievable”.
“I had a lot respect for her as a result of I performed towards her and I performed in that period. I by no means thought that any individual would break her report. Now that has occurred with Novak, which is phenomenal,” Schett mentioned through Eurosport.
“When he gained the Australian Open initially of the yr and he grew to become the No. 1 on the earth once more, I used to be considering ‘how is that potential?’
Undefeated in all 12 matches he has contested to this point this season, Djokovic says he has been pain-free for the previous week, having recovered from a muscle tear in his left hamstring he had sustained in Australia.
“I’m getting nearer to 100 per cent. Nonetheless not there when it comes to the sport itself, how I really feel on the court docket. However the vital factor is that there isn’t any ache. I don’t have a hindrance to the best way I transfer on the court docket,” declared the 35-year-old.
Djokovic will start his Dubai marketing campaign towards Czech qualifier Tomas Machac on Tuesday, the place the likes of Daniil Medvedev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Andy Murray are additionally anticipated to take the court docket.
Final yr, Dubai performed host to Djokovic’s first occasion of the season after he had been deported from Australia over his vaccination standing.
A five-time champion in Dubai, he was defeated within the quarter-finals by Jiri Vesely.
Murray, who’s one week older than Djokovic and has been the Serb’s rival since their early teen years, is coming off a shocking week in Doha, the place he battled by 4 three-setters earlier than dropping to Medvedev within the closing.
It has been a theme for the British former world primary, who additionally placed on heroic shows on the Australian Open final month.
“What is occurring now this yr along with his match factors saved in actually each match he performs, the quantity of hours he spent on the court docket for the reason that starting of the yr, notably in Australia, is simply one thing you have to admire and say ‘chapeau’ due to every thing he has gone by along with his hip,” mentioned Djokovic of Murray.