Novak Djokovic has reached another milestone in his illustrious tennis career, surpassing Steffi Graf to hold the world No. 1 spot for the longest number of weeks.
On Monday, Djokovic began his 378th week at the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world No. 1, the most weeks since the ATP ranking system began in 1973.
A week ago, Djokovic tied for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) leader Graf, who has held the top spot for 377 weeks in her career.
“Thanks to your love and the tremendous strength you’ve given me over the years, I’ve achieved so many fantastic things in my career,” Djokovic said in a video address to fans shared by the ATP.
“The most recent was a record 378 weeks at No. 1, surpassing Steffi Graf, one of the greatest, most legendary tennis players to ever play — both men and women. So I am proud, proud and happy about this achievement.”
Djokovic won the Australian Open last month to climb to the top spot. It was his 22nd major title, tying him with Rafael Nadal for the most Grand Slam titles in men’s tennis.
The 35-year-old will return to the court this week at the Dubai Tennis Championships, his first tournament since the Australian Open.
The Serbian was sidelined with a hamstring injury but told reporters he had been “out of pain” for a week in his first match against Tomasz Mahač of the Czech Republic on Tuesday.
It remains unclear where and when Djokovic will play after Dubai, with next month’s Indian Wells and Miami Open doubtful.
The United States still requires international visitors to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and Djokovic, who has previously confirmed he has not been vaccinated, has requested special permission to enter the country ahead of the two tournaments starting on March 6 and March 20. respectively.
“All I can do now is hope because my position remains the same. I can’t do much except to wish for a positive result,” Djokovic told reporters earlier.