Does Novak Djokovic’s latest record confirm he is the tennis GOAT?

Novak Djokovic screaming Credit: Alamy
Novak Djokovic screaming Credit: Alamy

Novak Djokovic has been ticking off the tennis records over the last few years and now he has another massive milestone on his record.

After reclaiming the world No 1 ranking with his dominant win at the Australian Open last month, Djokovic has now equalled Steffi Graf’s record for sitting at the top of the world tennis rankings for the most number of weeks.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion has held the record for the most weeks as men’s world number one since March 2021, but now he has joined Graf at the top of the list of players who have held the No 1 ranking for the longest period of time.

The legendary Graf first rose to the top of the women’s rankings in 1987 and by the end of her career, she had been known as the best player in the world for a remarkable 377 weeks.

Now Djokovic has joined her on that number after cementing his place at the top of the ATP rankings for another week.

The ongoing debate over who is the greatest player of all-time can only be definitively answered when Djokovic and his great rival Rafael Nadal hang up their rackets for the last time.

Yet this latest record for Djokovic is another huge moment in his story, as he looks certain to comfortably surpass Graf at the top of the game’s world No 1 list in the coming weeks.

Djokovic’s longest continuous run at the top was 122 weeks between July 2014 and November 2016. He trails Roger Federer (237 weeks), Jimmy Connors (160) and Ivan Lendl (157) in that list.

While he is currently the best player in the world, Djokovic could lose the prestigious world No 1 ranking next month, as he looks set to miss the Indian Wells and Miami ATP 1000 events as he is not permitted to enter America as he has not been vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Unfortunately, it is something that is out of our hands,” Djokovic’s bother Djordje told Serbian news agency Tanjug earlier this month.

“Novak needs to get a special permission to enter, considering that the USA still doesn’t let unvaccinated foreigners into the country, which is unbelievable, considering that we have seen big sporting manifestations with unvaccinated athletes throughout the world.

“There are a few days left until the decision, we are hoping for a positive outcome.”

Djokovic is expected to host a press conference in the coming days where he is expected to speak about his probable absence from Indian Wells and Miami, with former player Tommy Hass (who is also tournament director at the Indian Wells event) suggesting his absence would be a disgrace.

“It would be nice to see if we could maybe lift those (restrictions) a little earlier and have him come to play Indian Wells and Miami,” said Haas.

“I think he wants to play, so we should give him the chance. Hopefully, we can have him there. I mean, it would be a disgrace in my eyes if he wasn’t coming to these events, or not allowed to come.”

Djokovic’s career has been littered with controversies, but the marks in the record books he will leave may well ensure that he goes down in history as the greatest player who has ever held a racket.

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