Peaking Novak Djokovic Passes Rafael Nadal In Weeks At No. 1, Is The Goal To Reach Roger?
by Tom Gainey | April 13th, 2015, 9:33 am
  • 59 Comments

Novak Djokovic officially passed Rafael Nadal in terms of weeks at No. 1 today. This week marks the Serb’s 142nd week on top of the ATP rankings, just ahead of Nadal’s 141.

Djokovic’s next target is John McEnroe at 170 weeks. He could reach McnEnroe if he stays on top at the end of October. Roger Federer leads all players at 302. To reach Roger, Djokovic would have to hold No. 1 for another 163 weeks, or just before the French Open in 2018!!

“If you ask me personally, his goal, even though it seems far from now, is to pass Federer,” Djokovic’s good friend Janko Tipsarevic told ATPWorldTour.com. “I think that his goal is to be the best player of all time.

“I am so happy and proud that he has taken the sport to another level. He did it in the era of Federer and Nadal, the best tennis players in the sport’s history.

“All of a sudden this guy comes out of nowhere and raises the level even higher, when everyone thought it couldn’t go higher than these two guys.”

ATP Weeks At No. 1
Roger Federer (SUI) 302
Pete Sampras (USA) 286
Ivan Lendl (CZE) 270
Jimmy Connors (USA) 268
John McEnroe (USA) 170
Novak Djokovic (SRB) 142
Rafael Nadal (ESP) 141

Djokovic is the top seed in his home of Monte Carlo this week. After sweeping both Masters events in the U.S., the World No. 1 is full of confidence.

“I’m at the peak of my abilities right now,” Djokovic said Sunday.

“The experience of playing at a high level for the last three or four years helped me to handle these particular situations better than I have done in 2010 and 2011,” he added. “I feel like I have matured physically.

“I’m enjoying my time on the court, playing some of my best tennis. Next to 2011, this is definitely the best start I’ve ever had… It’s [been] four months, and [there's] still a lot of time to come.”


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59 Comments for Peaking Novak Djokovic Passes Rafael Nadal In Weeks At No. 1, Is The Goal To Reach Roger?

jane Says:

congrats to novak.


Dc Says:

He’s almost halfway – he can cross John McEnroes record this year and then probably reach 200 by next year if he remains unchallenged.
Unless someone from the younger generation rises to the top , Nole can break Rogers record for weeks at 1 as well as number of grand slams.


ANEL BOJANA Says:

Long life and all the best Nolence…


mat4 Says:

So much optimism…

First, I don’t think that Novak is peaking right now: his peak was probably in 2013, when Rafa was the better player.

On the other side, just like Fed and Rafa, Novak wants to be in tennis history books. Will he get there? Perhaps. Who knows? But most probably, he wont.

I remember, when Fed won his 16th slam in 2010, everybody thought he would win 20. He won one more. He plays in average 10 mn less by set then Novak, and his game is less taxing. Nevertheless, he had problems with his back. What’s with Novak’s health? Can he be injury free a lot more?

So, let’s be humble, and wait and see. I hope he will win at least one more slam and finish with more no 1 weeks than JMac. I believe it is realistic to hope for this. The rest… would be a bonus.


TennisVagabond.com Says:

What an accomplishment. Time at #1 is an undeniable proof of greatness. That’s almost 3 years worth, which, well, look how few people are above him and what their names are. I do believe he’ll pass JMac, the Connors goal is too far to predict.


jane Says:

mat4, i am all for being humble/realistic, but as for this, “Novak wants to be in tennis history books”, well, he already is!


RZ Says:

Looking at that list, I noticed there’s quite a jump between McEnroe (170) and Connors (268), and then Connors, Lendl, Sampras, and Fed are clustered at the top.

It’ll be interesting to see where Djokovic ends up. My prediction would be somewhere between McEnroe and Connors, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he passed Connors and Lendl’s marks.


skeezer Says:

Congrats to Nole, and in the era of Fed/Rafa. @jane “History Books” no doubt!!
Weeks at #1 is a stat that counts big time in Tennis achievements, no doubt. Now go get so more Slams! ;)


mat4 Says:

He needs to be very consistent at least two more years, and win at least one slam per year, and at least 2 masters a year at least. I hope he can do it, but it won’t be easy and it is not sure it will be enough.


chris ford1 Says:

Janko is a bright guy and I am very happy one of the finest players in the world is now back on Tour. And what he thinks is Djokovic’s goal is worth considering.
While at some level every athlete wants to be the best, Djokovic is close enough to being the best to measure himself against the two yardsticks of his era, Federer and Nadal. And in a time where he has had to fight other superb players like Murray, Del Potro, Ferrer, the Jo Tsonga of a few years back. And dangerous ones like Isner. The truth is that in a strong era, Djokovic improved enough to become the best player from 2011 on.

Many fans go by wins and records, but records can deceive. “Slam Count” is something only elevated in the days of Sampras by his fans, to obscure Pete not being an all-court player. Borg was a global promoter of the pro game, making it popular, ending with 11 Slams though he never bothered with the AO except one year when he was young, and was barred by the French Open over signing with the WTT for one year when he owned the French Open. It didn’t matter at the time because most fans and writers didn’t consider Slam Count, adding the AO grass tournament, important. It was all about building the pro game, adding venues, getting the big money to come to coveted events like Hamburg, appearance fees, winning Wimbledon.

Criteria for success always change regularly. No one doubts Usain Bolt is a better sprinter than Carl Lewis, despite Lewis’s huge “trophy count” lead.

Djokovic – we don’t know at this time where he places in the pantheon at the top. Mat4 is probably incorrect. He already has a big place in the history books. Led by “The player that improved enough through dedicated work to challenge and then surpass Fedal beginning in 2011 and remain the best player until 20__, known as the “Nole Era”. “


Yolita Says:

Congratulations, Novak…

I think Johnny Mac’s record can be passed… The other four are too far ahead.

In any case, what Novak has done is jaw dropping: he crashed the Fedal duopoly and established himself as the man to beat in their era. Not too shabby.

What I wish is for Novak to stay healthy and play his best tennis for as long as possible… Then the results and the numbers will come…

To think that in 2009 I had resigned myself to Novak being the perennial #3… Never did I imagine he would pass Rafa in weeks as #1 and would be the proud holder of 8 grand slam titles.

Life is sweet. :-)


chris ford1 Says:

My hope in this ongoing parlor game is that fans do not lock in so hard on the Top 3 plus Andy that they miss the pleasure of amazing players that are vastly better than any fan, even us college players. See Gael. See Fognini on clay. Watch Lisicki. The fun of picking a player early in their career and following them, even while you root for a certain star.

I picked 4 players just catching on back in 2007-08 that I thought “had it”. And followed them since. Cilic, Sam Querrey, del Potro, and Djokovic. Yes, Querrey wasn’t a good call. But it was a lot more entertaining to follow and on rare occasions bet on one of my picks..

It’s probably time to pick a few promising players besides Raonic and Jack Sock.(have to have one American in my picks, at least..)


Daniel Says:

mat4, you are right, we don’t know when will be this guys last Slam.

Who would have thought that after 2010 AO where Fed had 3 out of 4 Slams and lost USO to DelPo after being 2 points away from victory that he would never reach an AO or USO final ever again?!

We have to enjoy while it last because we sure won’t see it coming when it hit us.


Hippy Chick Says:

Congrats to Nole and all his lovely fans especially Mat4,quite the achievement,hes already made history the rest is gravy….


Hippy Chick Says:

I think surpassing Mac is very realistic,the rest is a rather taller order,still you never know?….


mat4 Says:

@Alison:

I think you deserve a poem for the “especially mat4″

I winter in my past come back.
May Easter sun revive at last
this frozen heart with warmth I lack
far worse than forty of Sebaste
who died upon their icy rack.

What is memory, my soul,
but a vessel where we sail
too deep to drink the waters whole.
In dawns so beautiful we rail
against life’s saddening evening stroll.

O Milky Way, whose sisterly
white streams flow on through Canaan’s land.
The white of lover’s bodies. We
must follow swimmers left unmanned
and swim to further nebulae.

I who know the lays for queens,
and such laments for all the years,
for eels with slaves made epicenes,
and that long tale of lover’s tears,
and all the songs of siren scenes.

And some more, under this link. It’s Aragon.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pzf6urpFpuw


Fahim Says:

totally agree with you jane


peter Says:

Im not sure who thought federer was going to reach 20 when he won in 2010, espescially when Nadal has become the better player in 2008. You have to look at the up and coming players, nadal was hitti

Then djokovic came along and made it even harder. The difference between fed 2010 and nole 2015 is due to the upcoming competition. There are no up and coming players who is anywhere near as talented as nadal or djokovic. Maybe coric can make it but hes going to take a few years to get there.

Its a realistic goal for nole, he just needs to be consistent, playing well in masters and win a slam a year, for him to be no.1 for many more years.


mat4 Says:

@Peter:

Just consult the archives. There was a hype about Fed, then another one about Rafa at the end of 2010, then, in 2012, another one about Novak.

Another thing: how many “experts” predicted DelPo to win the USO 2009? Who has predicted Novak’s stretch of dominance in december 2010? Even when he won the AO, nobody saw him coming.

Then, when Rafa arrived, who predicted that he would eventually win at WB?

Nobody.

Nobody assessed the impact of Head’s new racquet on Novak’s game, at the beginning of 2011, nor the quality of his game. I remember well Wilander commenting nonsense in the semi. I remember a poll before the final, only one pundit gave an three sets victory for Novak (Newcombe).

So, nobody knows what can change in just one year. Rafa could go on a tier again. Fed could win WB and the USO. Cilic could find that balance he needs for great results. Raonic could improve a little bit and win two slams.

That’s sport, and it’s alike, something, the theory of chaos. You just never know.


peter Says:

Anythings possible, we can only predict things based on current trend and what we know.

Predicting who will get no.1 is easier than predicting who will win a slam. Slam is about peaking in two weeks. No.1 is about consistency over 52. Even if rafa goes on a tear, will he be no.1 for long? Even if fed wins a slam again, will he be year end no.1? You look at consistency across all tournaments, to perform well week in week out, thats how no.1 is determined. Djokovic is by far the most consistent player, and he has the physical edge over fedal to last a season.

No, i saw novak coming in 2011. My reaction was, well, he finally realised his potential. I knew he had potential when he beat federer in straights in 08 AO. How often do u see a 20 year old beat a no.1 player in such a convincing fashion? Some people never realise their potential, novak did, and he disappointed a long time before he did.

Right now i just dont see enough potential in the young guys, say raonic, to do something nole did. And with no potential, noles just gonna stay no.1 for a long time.

Dimiteov, nishikori, raonic are all supposed to be at their peaks now, but still nowhere near as good as Murray, who himself a level below djokovic. Kygrious and Coric have potential, but how many years will they take to peak? 3,4,5 years. Thats the sort of window djokovic has on keeping no.1.


Wog Boy Says:

There is one player who I can see as a next big thing, not Coric, not Kyrgios but Kokkinakis, he has got everything in his game, body and mind to be next #1.


Hippy Chick Says:

JMO And i assume its still OK to have one?but i think RBA might be the next big thing in tennis….

Mat4 many thanks for the poetry and the links,your very sweet,i will be taking a break from posting after today,as im going away for a few days….


KatH Says:

Well done to Nole. It will take all the other top players at least 15 months approx. to even get close to his high ranking points.

Based on the law of averages, however, there will be pressure on Nole to defend all of his previous gains. Should his confidence slip, even slightly, he will be subject to nerves – a little of which we can see occasionally in some of his matches.

Right now, he’s blooming marvellous – but the old adage warns, don’t stand too high against your “peers” – for if you do, you will be brought down to earth (sometimes with a bang).

Go Nole – you may as well enjoy it – the next couple of years are all yours – you’ve earned it

When he begins to lose a little – which is inevitable – his confidence will begin to dip, and will affect his verve and nerve.


Saimon Says:

We are happy that we can see 3 best players game.
Personally I don’t think big 4 . Andy far far behind. Andy = Nole but Nole Mentally tough & ANdy not so he is far behind.
Roger/ Rafa/ Nole are great Players. You can’t measure considering who is number 1 in weeks.
First Sampras was dominating–then Roger-then – Rafa- Now Nole——then who? ( I don’t see Dimitrov_Mentally not strong enough , Raonic – has Serve but lack of other shots….then who is going to dominate? Nole gets a better chance to increase Grand slams since Rafa out of confidence and Roger is aging


jane Says:

“It will take all the other top players at least 15 months approx. to even get close to his high ranking points.”

not true, actually nole could be passed this year. as mat4 said, you never know. rafa has nothing to defend from wimbledon onward and fed and nole have a lot. also if any player were to win 2 slams he could probably pass nole just like that. it will all be more evident towards the latter part of the seaon when race and rolling rankings level off.


Hippy Chick Says:

Novaks playing fantastic and ranked 1,and Rafas playing crap and losing to my next door neighbour and is ranked 5,Rafas done crap at W since 2011,anyway to cut a long story short Novak is the man to beat,and everyone else is playing for runner up spot,unless your a Novak fan the tennis outlook looks very bleak ATM….


jane Says:

ah but hippy as you said the other day, rafa is playing queens again and perhaps that bodes well for him this year on grass not to mention the additional weel between clay and grass. And we havent even seen his form on clay really. Too early to tell how the season and rankings will play out. But nole is passable for sure.most of nole’s long time fans on here are aware of that.


Sirius Says:

Alison,

you never told your neighbor was an atp pro!


Hippy Chick Says:

Theres isnt a player on tour thats consistent enough to take the number 1 ranking off Novak at the moment,Andy and Rafa have never redicovered their 2013 pre injury/surgery form,Roger can still play fantastic but to be honest i would say his best days are behind him,Delpo is great but lurches from one injury crisis to another,Stan blows hot and cold too much,Cilic i will give him a pass as its still early days since the USO win,i think the most realistic thing for the rest of the elite would be to forget the ranking,and just concentrate on their own games,winning GS and other titles etc,forget the number 1 ranking it aint happening….


mat4 Says:

Great match by Novak. A lot of winners, some small adjustments still to do, but the FH is finally clicking and the BH worked well to. 24 winners, 9 FH, 7 BH. I noticed now why the first serve isn’t always working: Novak simply serves a bit faster, trying to keep the precision he had last year.

Something I didn’t like. He didn’t try to adapt to RM’s lefty game, and often I had the impression that he made wrong choices, especially playing DTL with the FH. He had a bit of problems finding the right distance from the baseline at times. His BH seems very strong.


mat4 Says:

I agree with WB that 4K will be the next big thing.


calmdownplease Says:

`But nole is passable for sure.most of nole’s long time fans on here are aware of that…`

Yes, Quite
Like the `long term fans` of Novak
Have time for em
But I can stand the creepy fair-weather converts from..well
We all know where, hoping onto to the bandwagon to pray.
Anyhoo, I still think Novak is the player to beat on the red stuff until we get to RG, that is.
He has to actually do it first in my book.
And then the `Legendary` stuff should be complete.


calmdownplease Says:

*hopping


jane Says:

hippy nole is indeed consistent but anything can happen as you note about rafa on clay, etc. it works both ways. as mat4 pointed out elsewhere, we cant predict the future or who will catch fire when. regardless of the stuff about rafa’s form, his results this season so far are not that different form 2010. and we all know whatt happened then, regardless of the good or bad form of nole, andy, fed or others that year. Have to wait and see!

cdp, glad you like us long timers. :) we have been around for all the nolecoasters, which helps with the realism.

mat4, thanks for the updates. I missed it. :/


Jamie Says:

Roland Garros winner will be Nadal this year.

Wimbledon winner will be Murray this year.

USO winner will be a new slam winner. A player winning his first slam title ever. Similar to what Cilic and Wawrinka did in 2014.


Giles Says:

Jamie. That’s good new, no?


Okiegal Says:

I believe Nole has the #1 ranking in check for a long time……he’s so far ahead atm. It seems to me that Novak plays just hard enough to win. He’s so far ahead of lower ranked players. He may lose a set just to blast back and kick um’ to the curb….again! He is so dynamic right now…..yeah, he’ll be at this spot a long time, provided he stays healthy. Now, if he feels the pressure of being number one over time, that could factor in.


jane Says:

he’s not that far ahead in the race actually. anything can happen. wow, and okie, do you and hippy ever disagree on anything? ;)


RZ Says:

I think Nole will hold on to the #1 ranking for a while, but Fed has a lot of points he can make up after Monte Carlo, as he didn’t play Madrid, lost in the first round of Rome, and only made the 4th round of the French Open. That gives him a chance to gain points between now and Wimbledon. And there’s always a possibility (likelihood?) of a strong clay run by Rafa, who really has no points to defend the rest of the year.


mat4 Says:

@jane:

No, they don’t. I think it’s the same person under two noms de plume. Another theory is that Okie is HC husband or vice versa, but I am not sure.

:-)


mat4 Says:

And here comes Jamie. Long time no see.

I am just amazed that he forget to add: “remember, you read it here first…”


mat4 Says:

BTW, just to have a clear conscience: in the last two years I closely watched all the predictions about slams winners on the net — astrology, vision, etc. When astrology is in question, the astrologist mostly got it right when the favourite won: nobody saw Wawrinka nor Cilic win. The usual tip was: Novak for AO, Rafa for FO, Fed for WB, no 1 for USO.

Then, when they missed, I was always charmed by the explanation how they did see it in fact. Yes, there was a bit of Jupiter in Fed’s sun, some Mars in Novak’s house, a bit of Venus in Rafa’s Taurus etc.

I lie much better than that. And I also predict much better than that.


Sirius Says:

“Yes, there was a bit of Jupiter in Fed’s sun, some Mars in Novak’s house, a bit of Venus in Rafa’s Taurus etc”

:D


KatH Says:

@ Jane
Who can take No. 1 spot from Novak within 15 months?

PS: Novak is a great guy but I didn’t make my prediction on anything other than his awesome lead and what appears to be that no-one can challenge him quickly.


jane Says:

^ rafa, murray, fed, nishikori all could.


KatH Says:

Not within 15 months.


jane Says:

why not? he’s got only a 2000 point ranking lead on andy in the race, for example. it is entirely, mathematically possible.

http://live-tennis.eu/race


KatH Says:

sorri Jane – You deserve a better explanation.

Nishikori is a stunning player – but is not physically strong enough. Federer – well – he’s already measuring his involvement in the sense that while he will win some – he will not win to the extent that he can overcome Novak. Murray will do a lot better (in my view) over the next 12 months but I don’t think he is hungry enuf. Nadal – maybe – but it is a long way back.

The reality in my view is that it will need one really dedicated player, talented and strong enough to commit to the task. I believe that yes, some of the above (and maybe others unnamed) can win a match (even an important match e.g. a Slam) against Nole – but that ain’t going to be enough.

Until Nole has to start defending his successes no-one will be able to touch him. If for example he loses a major and opponent A wins against him Nole will probably be the runner-up. A combination of a different player succeeding on this may succeed in Nole being the runner-up – but what I’m trying to say there is no one on the horizon who will succeed in constantly beating Nole – which means he will end up No. 1. even though he never wins again (Caroline W. was no. 1 in the WTA and never won a major).

Apologies if this is somewhat convoluted – and, it is only my opinion – not written in blood.


jane Says:

why don’t you think murray is “hungry enuf”? after clay, we’re heading into the part of the year that he loves best, and the two slams he’s won: wimbledon and us open. he’s also very happy personally and feeling fitter, reaching the late rounds of everything he enters. finals at AO and Miami. rafa? surely he’s hungry and obviously capable. it’s all totally possible we’ll see a whole new rafa going into clay and with an extra week this year before grass. i agree that fed and nishikori are perhaps less likely to catch up and take number 1 as they’d have to win at least one slam and a couple masters, but it’s not impossible for either of them.


jane Says:

“Until Nole has to start defending his successes” … he’s already had to do that. he defended both iw and miami.


Giles Says:

If joker crashes out early in Wimbledon …. might be a whole new ball game ….


Hippy Chick Says:

Jane @it would appear that way,maybe on the odd occasion Okie and i might disagree lol….
Mat4 trust me Mr Hippy cannot stand tennis,hes strictly a football fan lol….
Jamie i hope your right about the GS….


Hippy Chick Says:

I wouldnt be surprised to see anybody new or old win the USO,it seems the most open GS of them all,if it isnt either one of my favorites,i would love to see Nishikori bag his first GS….


mat4 Says:

@HC:

I believe that we could have a lot of surprise winners in GS this years. But we’ll see. The champions are tired, alas.


Yolita Says:

Roger could overtake Novak after Roland Garros, if Novak fails to defend his Rome and RG points and Roger does well during the ckay.

Novak is a very consistent player and very balanced: his points are well distributed during the season.

Last year he won 2540 points before the ciay, 2560 during the clay, 2900 from Wimbledon to the USO and 3360 after the USO.

He has already defended (and more!), the first quarter. He has 1845 points to soare, if he fails on the clay ( knock on wood)… But Nole is always defending his points. He knows that pressure. He has coped with it very well indeed, which is why he is on his 142nd week as #1. He dropped the ball a couple of times and Roger and Rafa got the #1 from him… Hopefully he has learned with the experience, but the rankings are for 52 weeks. Anybody who does better than Novak in the next 52 weeks will pas him.
I don’t understand the statement that nobidy can pass him in 15 months… On the contrary: anybody could… But nobody will, hopefully. :-)


jane Says:

thanks for confirming yolita. i knew it was entirely possible.


peter Says:

Mathematically anything is possiblez thats really a moot point. With the way things are going, and how they went in the past 4,5 years, nole has the 2015 no.1 ranking in the bag. Hes already got 4000+ points, and is very unlikely to have anything under 10000 by end of year, even without winning any of the other slams.

Now think about who can get more than 10000 points, theres only really 3 other names. These guys need to win 2 slams to have a realistic chance, given that nole outperforms them in getting points from masters and wtf.

Rafa, could come back very strong and win two slams, but he hasnt won enough so far this season, and the period after us open hes not going to get much points either. Hes capable of getting past 10000 but he will need to win 2 slams first, and thats a huge if given that novak has at least equal chance of winning two more himself. Federer could only if he wins two slams as well, and given his 5 set match record in past 3,4 years thats very unlikely. Murray i believe has past his peak, he played better under lendl, now he is not as good as 2012/13. He can win a slam but to win 2 is very unlikely.

Realistically only nadal can do the job, if he romps the clay season and wins two slams.

And all is done deal if nole wins another slam.


Okiegal Says:

@Jane 4/14 @11:35……Yes, Jane, Chick and I do disagree on one thing…..She thinks Fabio is the hottest looking tennis player and I think Feli is !! Lol. Regarding Novak and #1 ranking, I just think he’s playing too good to even lose, but I know he can. I’ll admit, I don’t understand all the ranking stuff, defending points and what not. He has 13,205 and Roger has 8,895. I just can’t see any player doing what it would take to pass him…..but who knows, maybe Roger can…..he’s been holding his own. I guess we will see this week how things play out at MC.


KatH Says:

@ Peter – Thanks for your comments – you said what I evidently did not include. And
@ Yolita – she pointed out Nole is currently defending his points.

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