Djokovic: Slams, No. 1 Records 'My Clear Goals'
After 17 years on Tour, Novak Djokovic believes that his most memorable accomplishments are still to come.
The World No. 1 in the FedEx ATP Rankings sat down for a feature profile on ‘In Depth with Graham Bensinger’ that was released this week. Djokovic discussed his 2020 form, including a flawless 18-0 record, and candidly admitted his on-court objectives that could change the conversation about his place in tennis history.
“I think that I still have things to do here in this sport. I believe that I can win the most Slams and break the record for [most weeks] at No. 1. Those are definitely my clear goals,” Djokovic said. “But at the same time, they’re not the only thing that motivates me… What fuels me every day is something more related to my growth personally.”
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With 17 Grand Slam titles, Djokovic is third on the all-time list and within striking distance of Rafael Nadal (19) and Roger Federer (20). He’s also third on the all-time list for most weeks at No. 1 (282), trailing Pete Sampras (286) and Federer (310). [Editor’s note: The FedEx ATP Rankings are currently frozen due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Djokovic is not adding weeks onto his tally.]
Djokovic's motivation is a stark contrast from where he found himself at the beginning of 2018. His wife, Jelena, revealed that the Serbian was mentally worn down from a two-year battle with a right elbow injury, which required surgery that February. After rushing back to action following the procedure and suffering opening-round exits in Indian Wells and Miami, he called his family together and said that he was hanging up his racquets.
“He just gathered all of us and said, ‘You know, guys, I’m done… I don’t know if I’m stopping for six months, a year or forever,” Jelena recalled. “Then we went on a holiday… I love tennis and kept taking the kids with me to play. He showed up [to the court] on the third or fourth day and saw how much fun we were having… After that, he started coming with us to play every day.
“On the last day, he took the shoes and properly dressed himself and said, ‘I’m going to call Marian [Vajda] and ask him to be my coach again.’ He needs to drop completely down [and] lose everything so he can start to build another tower. And it’s an amazing tower.”
The World No. 1 turns 33 on 22 May, but isn’t in a rush to accomplish his two main goals. He believes that time is on his side and that playing until age 40 isn’t out of the question.
“I don’t believe in limits. I definitely want to go for a long time… But I’m aware that the amount of tournaments I’m playing is going to decrease very soon,” Djokovic said. “I will not be able to play at this intensity, with this many tournaments and this much traveling, for a long time. I might be playing at 40, but then there will probably be a focus on the biggest tournaments and the tournaments that mean the most to me.”