Name it a trick of timing or name it coincidence. Within the week that may see Roger Federer return to the skilled tour at 39 after two knee surgical procedures and one yr out in what might arguably be his closing flourish at profitable main titles once more, Novak Djokovic has damaged one of many two distinguished data held by the Swiss.
Federer’s 310 weeks because the world’s No. 1 tennis participant was a legendary determine; an nearly unreal statistic of dominance that was largely believed to be out of bounds when he broke Pete Sampras’s 286-week report in 2012. For Djokovic, that report was not sacrosanct. Within the rankings-don’t-matter age of contemporary tennis, the Serb had spelt out his intentions loud and clear about staying on the summit for longer. He acquired to 311 weeks as No. 1 on Monday, and at 12,030 factors, has a yawning hole over No. 2 Rafael Nadal (9,850).
In contrast to the swift-sailing Swiss, Djokovic took his time to seek out the path to the highest. Whereas Federer turned No. 1 for the primary time in February 2004 on the age of twenty-two, Djokovic entered the No. 1 membership in July 2011 at 24 after a few years of hanging round at 2 and three within the rankings.
The 2-year hole may need remained within the subsequent milestone weeks (Federer hit 300 weeks at 31; Djokovic at 33), however Djokovic has had as a lot flex to his stranglehold on the throne as Federer did throughout his kingship days.
Stints on prime
Djokovic has loved 5 stints as world No. 1: from July 2011 to July 2012, November 2012 to October 2013, July 2014 to November 2016, November 2018 to November 2019 and February final yr until date. Federer has had six, however ended the yr as No. 1 one fewer time than Djokovic’s record-tying six.
In accordance with information on the ATP web site, Djokovic boasts of a 387-53 win-loss ratio because the top-ranked participant, together with 39 ATP titles out of the 52 championship matches. Federer, however, had a 301-45 ratio because the world No. 1 with 35 ATP trophies from 50 title clashes. If Federer had a jaw-dropping No. 1 run of 237 weeks on the trot—which continues to be up for grabs—between 2004 and 2008, Djokovic had an equally inconceivable streak of 167 wins with a sprinkling of 17 losses throughout his stint from 2014 to 2016.
After securing his maiden prime spot in 2011, Djokovic has solely as soon as slipped out of the top-10 rankings throughout 2017-2018, plummeting to twenty second in Might 2018 after coming back from an elbow damage that saved him out of the 2017 season put up Wimbledon. It took all of 5 months for the Serb to get again to the place he belonged, and apart from a quick three-month interval from November 2019 to January final yr when Nadal was atop, Djokovic has saved a good distance up there.
Federer, in the meantime, final acquired the texture of being No. 1 in February 2018, when, at 36, he turned the oldest participant to achieve the highest of the charts. It was his first time there since November 2012, which stays the longest hole between two No. 1 durations. However the age-defying feat lasted simply three months earlier than Nadal, after which Djokovic, took over once more.
In distinction to Djokovic prioritising being No. 1 alongside profitable Grand Slams, Federer has usually spoken about transferring on from the rating fixation in recent times. So has Nadal to an extent—who, by the best way, is sixth on the No. 1 weeks record at 209—though the Spaniard performed the 2019 ATP Finals regardless of damage fears simply to seal the year-end prime spot.
Federer has been extra unabashed whereas speaking concerning the relevance of the highest spot at this level of his profession.
“For me, the rating, at 37 years previous, is now not actually the precedence,” Federer mentioned in February 2019. “So long as I say I can win a Grand Slam as I did two years in the past with a world rating of 17 (Federer gained the 2017 Australian Open ranked seventeenth), every thing is in place. I choose to be ranked seventeenth than third and never win a Grand Slam or event.”
A significant purpose for Federer dropping out of the race is his calendar selectivity for the reason that profitable 2017 comeback. He now not minds lacking the complete clay-court swing to arrange for the grass, nor resting his physique within the lead as much as Grand Slams.
Nadal, 34, has recently adopted the choose and select mannequin beneath the rising affect of Carlos Moya in his workforce. Djokovic, the youngest of the trio at 33, needs to do the identical now that his No. 1 report thirst has been quenched.
“After attaining the historic No. 1 for the longest weeks at No. 1, it’s going to be a reduction for me as a result of I’m going to focus all my consideration on Slams principally,” Djokovic mentioned after profitable the Australian Open title. “If you find yourself going for No. 1 rating, you sort of must be enjoying the complete season and you must be enjoying effectively; you must play all of the tournaments. My objectives will adapt and can shift somewhat bit.”
Relaxation and recharge
It means Djokovic will now look to recharge his batteries earlier than getting into the Slams. It means he’ll now look to lengthen his time on the highway. It means he’ll now look to redirect himself in direction of erasing one other of Federer’s long-standing mark of 20 singles Grand Slam titles.
He has Nadal for firm on this race. Solely time, and Federer and Nadal’s extra weak our bodies, will inform if Djokovic can break free there too.