Just a few days away from his 34th birthday, Novak Djokovic knows the clock is ticking on his time and his fellow Big 3 at the top of the men’s rankings.
Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and others are all closing in on Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. And Djokovic knows it’s not if, but when.
“There are guys like Tsitsipas, Zverev, Berrettini, Rublev that are winning against all of us and playing a lot and building their ranking points,” Djokovic said. “Medvedev as well, of course, and challenging for the top spots. Dominic Thiem of course has been there for many years.
“It’s inevitable that it’s gonna happen. The change on the men’s rankings, top of the rankings is coming. Whether it’s gonna happen in a month or a year or whatever, I don’t know. I’m not personally paying too much attention anymore to the rankings as much as I am to my game for the Grand Slams. You know, those are the biggest focus tournaments right now at this stage of my career.”
This week marks Djokovic’s 320th which is most in men’s tennis, well past Roger Federer’s 310. And he just passed Serena’s 319 on the combined list with Steffi Graf (377) and Martina Navratilova (332) ahead.
“I have managed to achieve the milestone of the historic ranking No. 1, and that was the focus up to recently. Now it’s more about really trying to peak at Grand Slams and make those count for my career,” Djokovic said.
“I’m actually looking forward to take that next step in my career and my life where I’m gonna spend more time with my family and just do other things that interest me.”
Djokovic has won Rome five times, but comes into this edition a little undercooked after early losses in Monte Carlo and Belgrade. His focus, though, remains the Slams.
“I didn’t have too many matches,” Djokovic said of his clay prep. “I didn’t play so great in Monaco and Belgrade, but I’m hopefully going to change that here in Rome and then another week in Belgrade before the French.
“Four tournaments before French is I think enough in terms of the match play. So I’m building my fitness and I’m building just my game slowly step by step in order to peak in Paris. That’s definitely where I want to play my best.”
At the end of the month, Djokovic will seek a second Career Slam in Paris and a 19th overall Slam. This week, he’ll open against Taylor Fritz on Tuesday, with Tsitsipas or Berrettini in the quarters and Thiem or Rublev in the semis.
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