Novak Djoković catches Lendl, Closing Down on Sampras and Federer

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Novak Djoković has started his 270th week at No. 1 in the ATP rankings on Monday, surpassing Ivan Lendl in the all-time list of most weeks in the top spot. Peter Sampras (286) and the record-holder Roger Federer (310) are in his sights now.

If Djoković, who is currently struggling with a shoulder injury, remains at the number 1 spot until the end of the year, he will surpass Sampras on January 13, 2020. And if he is “lucky” enough to maintain that position in the rankings until June 30, 2020, he’ll tick off Federer’s record.

Federer has accepted that keeping hold of his records is not realistic after Novak Djoković and Rafael Nadal both gained ground on him in 2019. “Obviously I would like to preserve all my records, but it’s not realistic. But being able to play at this level at my age is amazing. I hope to stay in course for Grand Slams in 2020,” the Swiss maestro said.

A year and a half ago, the majority of the tennis world had predicted that Djoković was done, and that he has no chance of competing at the highest level anymore. He didn’t play tennis for six months in 2017 and undergone elbow surgery in 2018 after the early exit from the 2018 Australian Open.

The frustration culminated after crashing out of the French Open following a shocking loss to Marco Cecchinato in the quarter-finals of the competition. Djoković was the No. 22 player in the ATP rankings, and had a 6-6 record in 2018 at that point. His future was uncertain, and then it happened.

Djoković reunited with his long-time coach Marian Vajda and had a complete turnaround in fortunes. The Serbian magician compiled a 35-3 match record from the start of Wimbledon until the end of the year, and went on to win three Grand Slams in a row.

In the same year, Djoković completed Golden career masters by winning his first title in Cincinnati. Titles kept piling up for the Serb, and the sweetest came at Melbourne Rod Laver Arena in 2019, where he obliterated Nadal in the final to win his record 7th title.

After the 2019 Australian Open, Djoković has hit a rough patch and suffered several early-round exits in Indian Wells and Miami. He then bounced back in Madrid, where he won his first Masters 1,000 title in the season.

Fast forward to French Open, Novak’s ruthless run on Grand Slams came to an end after losing the semi-final match to Dominic Thiem in blustery conditions.

On Wimbledon, we witnessed yet another epic marathon between Djoković and Federer in the final. Federer left it all out on the court, had two match points, but Djoković prevailed. He won Grand Slam No. 16 and had a chance to add one more to his tally in the US Open.

Unfortunately, he was forced to retire in the fourth-round matchup with Stan Wawrinka due to a shoulder injury. Nadal went on to win the tournament and now stands only 640 points behind Djoković in the rankings.

Whether or not Djoković can maintain the no. 1 position until the end of the year remains to be seen. But one thing is certain – he will have to bring his A-game for the upcoming tournaments if he wants to keep the dream of breaking Federer’s record.

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Stefan Nedeljkovic
Hi, I’m Stefan, and I live for sports. No… I’m serious, I literally live for sports. I grew up within a family unit where my mom was an avid tennis player, my father played football, and my uncles and aunts (all who visited us fairly regularly) played basketball and table tennis at a competitive level. So when we weren’t playing sports, we were watching it. And when we weren’t watching sports, we were listening to it on the radio in the car. So sports have always been a part of the fabric of not only my childhood, but also my adult life too. Personally, I can play most sports. But my favorite is tennis. Here at The Sporty, I’ll be using my all-rounder sports skills to bring you the latest and greatest from the world of sports. But I will also do my best to cover as much tennis related news as I can. So that’s me in a nutshell - game, set and match.