As if Novak Djokovic didn’t make enough history at the Foro Italico over the past week by setting new benchmarks with his 52nd ATP Masters 1000 final appearance and subsequent 36th Masters 1000 title in Rome, he wrote himself even deeper into the record books Monday. Djokovic began his 287th career week at No. 1, passing Pete Sampras for second all-time in time spent atop the ATP rankings.
The Serb was asked about the upcoming milestone during his pre-match press conference in Rome.
“Well, Pete was my childhood idol, so of course surpassing his records is very special to me,” he said. “I always looked up to him, and I always wished to be as mentally strong and resilient as he is, especially in the big tournaments and big moments. He was one of the most composed and toughest players ever to hold a racquet, and him being No. 1 in the world for so many weeks proves how tough he was.”
Speaking of toughness, since rising to No. 1 for the first time on July 4, 2011, Djokovic has occupied the top spot for 62% of the time—287 of the 460 weeks of ATP rankings since then (not including the 22-week period where the rankings were frozen earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic).
Only one man stands between Djokovic and the all-time record: Roger Federer, who has spent 310 career weeks at No. 1. Djokovic needs 23 more weeks to tie the Swiss and 24 more to pass him.
Given he’s won 34 of his last 35 matches and five of the last eight majors, it’s looking propitious.
“I’m at a good place right now, so hopefully I can stay healthy and continue to play well.”
Djokovic wasn’t the only player who struck a big milestone on this week’s ATP rankings, as Denis Shapovalov made his Top 10 debut, rising from No. 14 to No. 10 after reaching the fifth Masters 1000 semifinal of his career in Rome. He was fresh off his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the US Open.
Shapovalov is the second Canadian man ever to break the Top 10 after Milos Raonic, who’s been ranked as high as No. 3. Three Canadian women have been Top 10: Carling Bassett-Seguso, who reached No. 8; Eugenie Bouchard, who reached No. 5; and Bianca Andreescu, who got to No. 4.
There were a few other notable movers on this week’s rankings: Norway’s Casper Ruud, who reached his first Masters 1000 semifinal in Rome—also scoring his first Top 10 win against No. 8-ranked Matteo Berrettini along the way—rose from No. 34 to No. 30, his Top 30 debut; and Argentina’s Federico Coria, younger brother of former No. 3 and 2004 French Open finalist Guillermo Coria, made his Top 100 debut, rising from No. 104 to No. 98 after qualifying and reaching the second round in Rome.