With just a month or so left in the 2018 ATP season, Novak Djokovic is arguably the favorite to finish the year No. 1. That’s quite a leap for the Serb who was ranked as low as No. 22 just in June.. And should he win a fourth Shanghai title this week, Djokovic would be in a virtual tie with the idle Rafael Nadal in the 2018 Race, just 35 points behind.
“He is the No. 1,” Djokovic said of Nadal. “So I am really glad that I put myself in a position to compete for No. 1 of the world. And maybe four, five months ago, that was looking a little bit far from reach, but with the recent results, you know, I put myself in a pretty decent position to fight for No. 1, year-end No. 1, which of course is always one of the ultimate goals that you have as a professional tennis player.”
Djokovic has won his last 14 matches since falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Canada, and after titles in Cincinnati, the US Open and recently the Laver Cup, an event he called “exhausting”, could the Serb’s tank run empty down the stretch?
“I think the schedule, first of all, is such that after the kind of Grand Slam season is over, you know, a lot of I think tennis players and tennis fans specifically just drop with excitement a little bit, you know, and I think many of the tennis players are also getting a little bit tired from the length of the season.
“Out of respect for every tournament and I want to win as much as I can, but at the same time, I want to give myself a good chance to be No. 1 in the end of the year. So I will definitely play this tournament and any other after this as it’s a Grand Slam for me, in a way.”
Djokovic returns to action Wednesday against the last man to beat him in a Grand Slam, Marco Cecchinato who stunned the former No. 1 at the French Open.
“I’m very grateful to play on a high level,” Djokovic said. “I think that I’m very close to my best, you know, and “best” changes day to day. I can always strive to be the best I can be on that given day.”
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