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Djokovic Celebrates 171st Week At No. 1 In Emirates ATP Rankings

Novak Djokovic begins this week by moving to fifth all-time for most weeks at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings and could end it by becoming the first player to win six ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in one season in Paris

In his New York City pad, John McEnroe is seething. Sort of. Today, Novak Djokovic has moved past the American for fifth place in the list of players who have spent most weeks at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. McEnroe spent the last of his 170 weeks at No. 1 in the week beginning 26 June 1985. Now, Djokovic, 28, can see only Jimmy Connors (268), Ivan Lendl (270), Pete Sampras (286) and Roger Federer (302) ahead of him. At 28 years of age the target pinned on Djokovic’s chest grows bigger with every week, yet his drive to be considered an all-time great keeps him ahead of the chasing pack.

“I made the mistake of sitting back and waiting to see what others had to offer, then adjust accordingly,” admitted McEnroe. “Instead of thinking to myself, 'I need to add more now' and work harder than I was working. You get that false sense of security at times that you can step up when you need to. For me personally, that was a bad move.

“One thing that I really respect about Novak is that he's trying to add that little bit more to his game. This year, he has been a bit more aggressive off his return and has been more willing to come forward. That extra five per cent is a huge difference in a big moment against a Federer or [Rafael] Nadal, or other great players."

“I have seen a lot of great things from him, but I didn't see this high level and this consistency. It has been one of the most magnificent years I have seen since I've been watching tennis. It's remarkable how consistent he has been; he is like a human backboard right now.”

DJOKOVIC PASSES MCENROE: Djokovic is starting his 171st week at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He has surpassed McEnroe for No. 5 on the all-time list in the history of the Emirates ATP Rankings (since Aug. 23, 1973). Here is a look at the players with 100 weeks (or more) at No. 1 and their year-end finishes:

Weeks At No. 1
No. Of Year-End No. 1s
5 - 2004-07, '09
6 - 1993-98
Ivan Lendl (CZE/USA)
4 - 1985-87, '89
5 - 1974-78
4 - 2011-12, '14-15
4 - 1981-84
3 - 2008, '10, '13
2 - 1979-80
1 - 1999

Djokovic explained to ATPWorldTour.com the reasons behind his dominance, saying, "You've got to have the self discipline and the dedication, devotion, but most of all passion for the sport, for what you do and keep on waking up every day knowing what your big victory is and what you are aiming for.

"Believing in yourself, in your abilities, is something that when you are younger most people are lacking. Obviously, you want everything to come right away and you want to experience success instantly, which is in most cases not possible. You have to work for it."

Djokovic has a 7,535 points lead over Federer, who rose one spot to No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings as a result of capturing his seventh Swiss Indoors Basel title on Sunday. Such a lead is a product of his dominance in 2015, when he has compiled a 73-5 match record – including 27-1 at Grand Slams and 34-2 at ATP World Tour Masters 1000s. If he wins the BNP Paribas Masters title in Paris this week, he will be the first player in history (since 1990) to win six ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in the same season. His 9-4 mark in finals over the past 10 months, with possibly additional trophies in Paris and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals left up for grabs, ensure that 2015 will go down as Djokovic’s finest season.

Connors told ATPWorldTour.com, "He is playing a different kind of game than the rest of them, which is good to see because guys might need to change their games to keep up with him. He's set the bar now and has guys following him. It's been Roger, then Rafa, and now Novak is there and guys are chasing him.

"It's nice knowing you go out there and you're everyone's target. I used to love that. It seems to me that Novak is the same way; he thrives on it, raising his game each time because he knows his opponents well. He isn't afraid to put it on the line time after time, as he plays a lot of matches. The more you play, the odds of winning go down along the way, especially against great competition. He deals with it pretty well."

Since Djokovic’s first truly great year in 2011, when he first became No. 1 on 4 July, his business has been winning tennis matches. Since first taking top spot to date, he has compiled a 353-42 match record and won 39 of his 57 trophies. He has won nine of 20 Grand Slam titles and finished runner-up in another six. He has also taken home 20 trophies from of a possible 40 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments that he has contested (157-19 match record).

"I think it's incredible what Novak's been able to achieve in the last few years, I mean throughout his career, because everybody takes a different path to get to the very top and he's done that his way," Federer told ATPWorldTour.com. "It's never easy once at the top to find a way to stay there. You need to keep on winning and that's what he's been doing and not just once in a while. You have to bring that week in week out. He absolutely deserves all the records he is holding right now."