By becoming the 25th man in ATP history to claim the No. 1 ranking, Novak Djokovic fulfilled a childhood dream. Playing in possibly the toughest era of men’s tennis, Djokovic surpassed Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to become the undisputed top-ranked player in the world, something few predicted to begin the year.
In an article you can read here, I detailed the uphill battle Nadal faces in order to reclaim the No. 1 ranking from Djokovic by the end of the year.
The list of players who have been ranked as the world No. 1 ranges from those who had a brief stay at the top spot, to the giants of the game who dominated the sport for prolonged periods of time.
Djokovic is two weeks into his reign as the world No. 1, which is already one week longer than Patrick Rafter’s one week of glory at the top spot and is tied with Carlos Moya’s two-week stretch in 1999.
Djokovic has a healthy 1,885-point lead over Nadal, a 3,925-point lead over Federer, and a 6,300-point lead over Andy Murray. Djokovic will have 1,200 points to defend at the US Open, 400 points to defend at the Barclays year-end World Tour Finals, and 990 points combined to defend in the remaining four Masters Series tournaments in 2011.
In comparison, Nadal has 2,000 points to defend at the US Open, 1,000 points to defend at the World Tour Finals, and 630 points combined to defend in the remaining four Masters Series tournaments.
If Djokovic continues to play at his current level, he will stand to improve his points total, but It is hard to believe that the Serb can maintain this incredible standard of play for an entire year without having a bad day or two.
Unfortunately for Djokovic, although he does not have quite as many points to defend as Nadal does for the rest of 2011, he must be at his best to hold off the two active legends nipping at his heels.
Looking ahead to 2012, Djokovic will have the mammoth task of trying to defend all of the tournament titles that he currently holds. It is difficult to project how long Djokovic will be at the top of his game. By the end of his career, could it be possible that he spends more weeks at the No. 1 position than Nadal, who has spent 102 weeks thus far as the top player?
Djokovic has elevated his game to new heights and is now forcing Nadal and Federer to elevate their games if they want to beat him. The Serb has been one of the most consistent players on tour this year, so it will be interesting to see how long his reign will last.
What do you think?
Make your predictions in the comments below!