Some sports, especially those taken part by individuals, are very cyclical. You’ll see an inspirational player or two that takes over for almost an entire generation.
For the best part of 20 years in tennis, this has been an accolade held by a trio of superstar performers who have risen the bar to incredible heights, and one of these three continues to do so to this day.
The trio in question, in case you were in any doubt, were Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic and it’s the last of this threesome that is still playing to Herculean lengths in 2023, and the Serbian legend is set to reach another milestone in the coming weeks, setting a new record that may take another generation to exceed.
This week is the 35-year-old’s 383rd week at number one, and he is far ahead of any challenger for that crown for most weeks at the top and will look to make it to 400, a target that may well be impossible to overcome in the modern game.
Federer stands second in that list, all the way back on 310 weeks, with American player Pete Sampras in third on 286.
What is most impressive about Djokovic’s feat is the fact that he continues to hit such heady heights, continually motivated to take records above and beyond the competition.
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Djokovic took the Australian Open earlier this year, his tenth title in Melbourne, and he may well be looking to bring his total of Grand Slams to 23 when the French Open looms into view, though it is worth noting that his record at Roland Garros is perhaps his worst in Grand Slams.
He’s only triumphed in Paris on two occasions, those coming in 2016 and 2021, that’s in marked contrast to the double figures accomplished in Australia and his seven Wimbledon titles.
Djokovic has also been sporadic in US Open action, but even then, he still has three crowns from Flushing Meadow to his name, though the last of these came back in 2018, since when he’s won every other Grand Slam at least once.
His main competitor in up-and-coming major events may come in the form of young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, with the Spanish teenager being very impressive over the past two years, during which time he racked up a US Open title in 2022 as well as tournament wins at the Miami Open and the Indian Wells Masters, which shows just how capable he is on the hard courts in the United States.
Clearly, Alcaraz, who is at the other end of his career spectrum when compared to Novak Djokovic, will have a lot to do in order to even achieve half as much as his veteran rival, a rival who shows no signs of slowing down.