Novak Djokovic said it is going to be “amazing” to equal childhood idol Pete Sampras’s all-time record of ending the year as world number one on six occasions. Djokovic will make certain he matches the great American by winning two matches at this week’s Vienna ATP tournament. The 33-year-old Serb has been the top-ranked player at the end of a season five times: in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018. He shares that mark with career rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Sampras achieved the feat six years in succession between 1993 and 1998.
“Sampras used to be my childhood idol growing up and it is going to be amazing to tie his record by being the year-end world number one six time,” Djokovic told a news convention on Sunday.
Djokovic has another target — beating Federer’s all-time best of 310 weeks spent on top of the rankings.
On Monday, Djokovic will begin his 292nd week in complete as world number one.
Must he stay in pole position, he’s going to pass Federer in early March 2021 despite the fact that he admits that in the current climate everything in the sport remains “unpredictable”.
“It’s my great goal to succeed in that and it’s something I am working towards,” said Djokovic.
“I am hoping it happens in March, but let’s see. Such a lot of unpredictable things can happen and things change week by week.”
Djokovic will play in Vienna for the first time since he won the title there in 2007.
He opens against fellow Serb Filip Krajinovic with a second-round conflict against either Borna Coric of Croatia or The us’s Taylor Fritz.
It’s going to be the 17-time Grand Slam title winner’s first tournament since his straight sets loss to Nadal in the Roland Garros last two weeks ago.
On the other hand, his path to a fifth title of 2020 will likely run into defending Vienna champion and home star Dominic Thiem in the last.
Djokovic and US Open winner Thiem are two of six top 10 players in the draw in the Austrian capital.
“The quality of matches from the first round will be very, very high,” said Djokovic.
Djokovic said he used to be surprised when he saw the draw, which revealed he’s going to play countryman Krajinovic in the first round.
They’re tied 1-1 in their head-to-head series, with Djokovic beating Krajinovic in straight sets final month at the Rome Masters.
“I practised with Filip for a couple of days in Belgrade before coming here and we joked around that we would draw every other and that’s the reason what happened,” Djokovic said.
“The odds of this happening are very slim. But it is what it is. We are great friends, I’ve known Filip for a very long time.
“He is a very talented guy, tough court is his preferred surface. He can play very quick tennis. We have similar games if truth be told because we roughly grew up together.”
Thiem faces Japan’s Kei Nishikori in the first round.
Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas, the ATP Finals champion, is the third seed with Russia’s Daniil Medvedev taking the fourth seeding.
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