Novak Djokovic - Australian Open 2023

Novak Djokovic ‘proud’ to break ‘legendary’ Steffi Graf record

Novak Djokovic has officially broken the record for most weeks as No.1, surpassing Steffi Graf’s record of 377 weeks. 

Djokovic is now in his 378th week at the top of the ATP rankings, as he plays his first tournament since the Australian Open in Dubai.

The Serb spoke of how he could never have dreamed of achieving this feat as a child, “Well, I could not have imagined it at that point, to be honest. I was dreaming as a kid to be Wimbledon champion, to be No 1 in the world. I achieved those dreams 2011.”

He added, “After that, of course, I wanted more. I still want more achievements. Of course, I’m driven by the goals. I’m as dedicated to the sport really as anybody else. I obviously know that it’s not handed to me, that I have to earn it.”

Graf surpassed Martina Navratilova in 1996, and Djokovic was full of praise for the fellow 22-time Grand Slam champion, “Of course, it’s surreal in a way to be that many weeks world No 1, to match Steffi Graf, that is one of the all-time greats of our sport, both men and women. Just being amongst these legendary names is flattering. Of course, I’m very proud of it.”

Former No.2 Alex Corretja spoke about the ‘unique’ achievement, “I’m going to tell you the truth: as a former player, I really cannot understand how he can manage to do that for so many weeks.”

“I grew up looking up to Steffi Graf and watching her all the time, practicing hard. I was always wondering how difficult it must be to keep such a high level for so many weeks in your life.”

He continued, “This is very unique. It shows so much love for tennis and so much respect for himself – and in the end, for the sport in general because you need to take care of yourself a lot.”

Barbara Schett, who is a former top 10 player on the WTA tour, believes that the 35-year-old will extend his reign even longer, “I don’t see this being the end to him being the world No. 1 as I think he will get over 400 weeks.”

“He is still the one to beat at the moment and is the most consistent player out there. He has really, really deserved this. It is phenomenal what he has achieved, and he rightfully has the record.”

While Djokovic was happy to achieve another record, he admitted that he also has goals to enjoy every tournament he plays as he enters the twilight of his career, “But at the same time wherever I play, I don’t want to take away the importance of the tournament, whether that be in here in Dubai, 250 event we’re playing in Banja Luka in a few months’ time.

“Everywhere I go, I want to win. Every trophy I get to win maybe values three, four times as much as some trophies that I won some years ago, 10 years ago, because I know that it’s different.”

“I don’t know how much time I have left in a way, how many more years I’m going to play. I try to really get the most out of the present moment in every tournament that I play.”

Djokovic begins his bid for a sixth title in Dubai, tomorrow, against qualifier Tomas Machac, in a first time meeting between the pair.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.