ATP

Djokovic reflects on 'paramount achievement' after passing Sampras with rankings record

By Sports Desk November 06, 2021

Novak Djokovic will wait until he is retired to assess his stunning feats but recognises rankings records as "the paramount achievement of our sport".

The Serbian will finish the year as the world number one for a seventh time, a new record having previously been tied with Pete Sampras on six.

Djokovic, who also leads the way with 345 weeks at the top all-time, secured his position by advancing to the Paris Masters final with a last-four win over Hubert Hurkacz on Saturday.

"Every achievement is special," said the 20-time major champion. "I try to make myself aware of the fact that I am in a very unique position.

"It's difficult for me to understand the magnitude of these achievements, not just for myself but for the sport while I'm still [an] active player.

"Probably when I retire, I'll be able to reflect on that a little bit more and appreciate it a little bit more.

"Of course I'm very appreciative and grateful for it now, but what is the next challenge is always in your mind while you're an active player. It's constantly another task, another tournament.

"So [I] don't have really much time to enjoy the success, so to say, because you always have to turn the next page."

However, he added: "Being historically [the] number one-ranked player in the world is probably the paramount achievement of our sport.

"Also, finishing the season as year-end number one requires full commitment throughout the entire year and consistency and playing the best tennis in the biggest events, which accumulate the most points that enable you to be highly ranked. So that's what I have done this year."

Djokovic will have his work cut out as he pursues a 37th Masters 1000 title, now facing Daniil Medvedev, the man who denied him the calendar Grand Slam in the US Open final.

"The job is not done," added Djokovic. "Obviously reaching the finals of one of the biggest tournaments that we have in our sport on our tour is something that stands out regardless of the year-end achievement that is completed.

"So hopefully going to have another great match and then take it from there.

"For now I am just proud and extremely happy. Obviously that was one of the biggest goals and it's always one of the biggest goals, to try to be number one and end the season as number one.

"To do it for the record seventh time and surpass my childhood idol and role model, Pete, is incredible. Very grateful, very blessed to be in this position.

“I wasn't bored without tennis, but I like competing so I was looking forward to coming to Paris and the biggest reason coming here was to clinch the year-end number one.

"Now that I managed to do it, it's a huge relief, as well."

Related items

  • Australian Open: Wound-up Medvedev through after 'crazy' fourth set Australian Open: Wound-up Medvedev through after 'crazy' fourth set

    Daniil Medvedev's temper threatened to boil over during his match against Maxime Cressy, as the world number two reflected on a "crazy" final set.

    Medvedev beat Cressy 6-2 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (4-7) 7-5 on Monday to ensure his place in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

    The second seed is the fifth Russian man in the Open Era to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne on multiple occasions, joining Yevgeny Kafelnikov (five), Nikolay Davydenko (four), Aleksandar Metreveli and Marat Safin (both three).

    Medvedev had it far from easy against the world number 70, who reached the final of the Melbourne Summer Set earlier this month, losing to Rafael Nadal, and the match lasted three hours and 30 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

    Indeed, Medvedev was extremely tense in the fourth and what proved to be final set, as he squandered eight chances to break before finally doing so to nudge himself into a 6-5 lead. 

    His temper frayed at 2-2, however, with Medvedev shouting: "It's simply unbelievable how lucky he is. I've never seen anything like this in my life."

    Medvedev eventually served out the win, taking the first match point on offer, but the US Open champion knew he had been in a battle.

    "He really did [serve and volley] well," Medvedev said. "First set I had control, but the second set I didn't manage to break him but won the tie-break and just wanted to continue this way.

    "When I lost the third [set] and when I had eight break points in the fourth set, I was like, come on. Some of them I could have won, but he played well, but on the last one I played well.

    "It was not easy. If I didn't win the fourth [set] I'd have probably been in a difficult mental shape because I had so many breakpoints. Hell of a match. The fourth set was crazy."

    Overall it was a deserved win for Medvedev, who made only 11 unforced errors in contrast to Cressy's 49, and even if he only took three out of 12 break points, the 25-year-old offered up just one to his opponent, which the French-born American failed to capitalise on.

    Another annoyance for Medvedev was that he was again scheduled to play on Margaret Court Arena, rather than the crown jewel at Melbourne Park, Rod Laver Arena.

    "I really don't know what I should do to play on centre court here," he told reporters.

    Next up for Medvedev is a quarter-final tie against ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.

    Medvedev has defeated the 21-year-old Canadian in all three of their previous meetings on the ATP Tour, including in his successful run to US Open glory last year, and in the ATP Cup earlier this month.

  • Australian Open: 'It's never too late to try again' – emotional Cornet reflects on reaching maiden grand slam quarter-final Australian Open: 'It's never too late to try again' – emotional Cornet reflects on reaching maiden grand slam quarter-final

    An emotional Alize Cornet said "it is never too late to try again" after reaching her maiden grand slam quarter-final with victory over Simona Halep at the Australian Open.

    Cornet, who celebrated her 32nd birthday on Saturday, battled to a 6-4 3-6 6-4 victory in stifling conditions on Rod Laver Arena to set up a last-eight showdown with Danielle Collins, who beat Elise Mertens in three sets.

    The Frenchwoman has now defeated two in-form former number ones in Halep and Garbine Muguruza, having also recovered from a set and 1-4 down to overcome Tamara Zidansek.

    She is through to her first quarter-final in what is her 63rd grand slam appearance and is the first Frenchwoman to reach this stage at Melbourne Park since Marion Bartoli in 2009.

    Cornet is playing in her 60th straight major, and should she compete in the main draws at Roland Garros, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows, will set a new record for consecutive appearances in grand slams.

    "It feels amazing," Cornet said in her on-court interview with Jelena Dokic. "It was a battle with Simona today. In this heat after 30 minutes we were both dying on the court.

    "We kept going for two and a half hours with all our heart. Congrats to Simona because I know she struggled a lot and I admire this player so much. 

    "She's such a fighter and an example to me. To beat her today to go to my first quarter-final is a dream come true. I don't know what to say. It's just magic. It's never too late to try again.

    "This is why I keep playing tennis, for this moment where I can share all these emotions on the court with you."

    Cornet had reached the last 16 at majors on five occasions prior to her victory over Halep in a run dating back 13 years when narrowly missing out on the Australian Open quarter-finals.

    She was pegged back from a set and break up against Halep, losing 16 straight points at one point, and was clearly struggling with the heat as the match dragged into a decider.

    But Cornet, who recently suggested this might be her final season playing professional tennis, showed incredible resolve to break Halep in the seventh game and hold her own serve to break her quarter-final hoodoo.

    Halep congratulated Cornet, posting to her official Instagram account: "You have been stronger today! All the respect for you, Alize. Enjoy. I'll keep working to get better for another three-hour match when we meet again."

    In her post-match media duties, Halep said: "I have only nice words about her, because I like her on court, how she's fighting.

    "She deserves what is happening to her now. She works hard all the time, and I wish her good luck. I really want her to make this dream coming true."

    There was to be another emotional moment for Cornet at the end of her victory speech as she praised 2009 Australian Open quarter-finalist Dokic for her work off the court since retiring eight years ago.

    "I want to thank my box, but also I want to tell you something... how you moved on in your life, I think we can all congratulate you. You were an amazing player and now an amazing commentator," Cornet said as the pair embraced on court.

    Dokic, who last week called out social media trolls for body-shaming her, responded: "You just made me cry. I can’t believe I'm crying. Thank you. Alize Cornet."

  • Australian Open: Berrettini makes Italian tennis history to set up Monfils clash Australian Open: Berrettini makes Italian tennis history to set up Monfils clash

    Matteo Berrettini made Italian tennis history on Sunday as he blasted his way past Pablo Carreno Busta and into the Australian Open quarter-finals.

    The seventh seed won 7-5 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in a gruelling contest to set up a last-eight clash with Gael Monfils, who earlier beat Miomir Kecmanovic.

    Berrettini is the first men's player from his country to reach the quarter-final stage of all four grand slams in the singles draw, and only the 10th active player to achieve the feat.

    The 25-year-old only reached this stage of a major for the first time in 2019 and has since gone as far as the final in Wimbledon last year, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.

    Having withdrawn from his round-of-16 match with Stefanos Tsitsipas in Melbourne in 2021 due to an abdominal injury, Berrettini was delighted to have progressed.

    "It was really tough last year. I really wanted to play, but I couldn't with the tear in the ab," he said.

    "But I believe there is a reason for everything that happens and I've been wishing to come back as soon as possible and the way I won today shows how much I care about this tournament."

    Berrettini had luck on his side in the first set as two netcords on Carreno Busta's serve allowed him to break for a 6-5 lead.

    Once ahead in the match, his serve and baseline power became too much for the Spaniard: Berrettini rained down 28 aces, winning 87 per cent of points behind his first serve, and hit 57 winners.

    "I was really precise with my serving and he wasn't reading my serve, which is why I hit a lot of aces," he said.

    Next up is a meeting with Monfils, who has now reached 10 slam quarter-finals in his career and a first in Australia in six years.

    These two met at the same stage of the 2019 US Open, Berrettini prevailing in five sets after losing the first two. The winner could face Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.

    "It's been a long journey for me and I'm quite happy, but it's not finished," said Monfils. "I will try to play this quarter-final not like the last time. I will try to be better.

    "It's an achievement but we're not quite finished yet."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.