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Tenis: Djokovic’s «surreal» ranking milestone to surpass Graf

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Tennis in the 21st century has been spoilt for choice with a plethora of legendary figures lifting countless titles.

Sometimes it can be easy to overshadow the achievements of the greats beforehand. Take Steffi Graf.

The all-conquering German clinched 22 Grand Slam titles and accumulated an astonishing 377 weeks atop of the rankings.

Well, Novak Djokovic also has 22 majors in the trophy cabinet, but has just broken clear of Graf for an all-time record 378rd week at the summit of the rankings.

To put that haul into context, the players after Djokovic and Graf in the Top 5 are Martina Navratilova (332 weeks), Serena Williams (319) and Roger Federer (310).

«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,» Djokovic told reporters in Dubai.

«I was dreaming as a kid to be Wimbledon champion, to be No.1 in the world. I achieved those dreams in 2011. After that, of course, I wanted more. I still want more achievements.»

The 35-year-old, lifting his 22nd Grand Slam in Melbourne last month, now ties perennial rival Rafael Nadal in first position in the men’s Roll of Honour.

Frequently stating he wants to peak at the majors, Djokovic continues to be fiercely driven by chasing down more historic accomplishments.

©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

It’s about keeping it fresh and maintaining champion’s mentality.

«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,» declared the 93-time titlist.

«I think in the core of my motivation, it’s just a mentality of wanting always to be better than I was yesterday. So, on a daily basis or kind of a short-term goal is to always try to improve every aspect of the game ‘cause I always believe that there is something to work on.

«I think keeping that kind of a mindset also drives me and drives my team members to really take every tournament as a new challenge, biggest challenge we have in this moment. I feel like that kind of attitude got me to where I am in terms of achievements in my career.

«I still feel physically very good. Mentally I’m there, I’m present. I really love the game, I love the competition, I love to be challenged on the court by anybody.

«So there’s still that fire, flame burning.»

Over in Dubai, where the Serbian is a five time champion, Djokovic will hope to extend his unbeaten 12-0 start to 2023.

The world No.1, already holding trophies aloft in Adelaide and Melbourne this season, opens against world No.120 Tomas Machac on Tuesday.



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