Novak Djokovic surpasses Roger Federer record as Swiss great gears up for return

Djokovic broke Federer’s record (Picture: TPN/Getty)

Novak Djokovic hit another major milestone on his quest to become the greatest male tennis player of all time on Monday as he surpassed Roger Federer’s record total of weeks spent at world No. 1.

Djokovic, the world No. 1 from Serbia, had been guaranteed to top this particular leaderboard after Rafael Nadal’s quarter-final exit to Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open last month.

He marked his 311th week at the top of the ATP rankings with three words posted to his Twitter account: ‘Big day today.’

Since first topping the rankings after winning Wimbledon in 2011, Djokovic has spent 311 of the next 484 weeks as the world’s top-ranked player – more than other incumbants Nadal, Federer and Andy Murray combined. Given his dominance, this figure should continue to rise.

He already shares the record for most years ended at No. 1 (6) with Pete Sampras and last year became the oldest year-end No. 1 (33) in history. Federer, for the time being, holds the record for the oldest ever No. 1 (36).

In a week’s time Daniil Medvedev, the long-limbed Russian, will become the first player outside of Djokovic, Nadal, Federer and Murray to hold the No. 2 ranking since July 2005.

Of course, the main focus of this week will likely be on Federer’s return.

Most weeks at world No. 1 (ATP)

311 – Novak Djokovic
310 – Roger Federer
286 – Pete Sampras
270 – Ivan Lendl
268 – Jimmy Connors
209 – Rafael Nadal
170 – John McEnroe
109 – Bjorn Borg
101 – Andre Agassi
80 – Lleyton Hewitt

After two operations on his right knee and more than a year away from competitive tennis, he will compete in Doha on Wednesday.

Federer, who turns 40 in August, has not played on the tour for almost 14 months and will be guided by the progress of his knee as to how long he will continue in the sport.

‘I know it’s on the rare side for almost a 40-year-old to come back after a year being out. What’s important is I’m injury and pain-free,’ said Federer on Sunday. ‘The pain is completely under control.

‘Retirement was never really on the cards. I think it’s really a conversation more, let’s say, if the knee keeps bothering me for months and months to come.

‘I just feel like the story’s not over yet. I enjoy playing tennis, I enjoy being on the road.

‘Probably one of the other reasons to come back is that I would like to get that high again of playing against the best players, playing at the biggest tournaments, winning them hopefully, and being in the conversation.’

Federer is back in action this week (Picture: AFP via Getty)

Federer, who says he hopes to be ‘100%’ for Wimbledon, is not concerned about rediscovering his form – ‘for me, tennis is like riding a bike’ – nor is he concerned by Djokovic and Nadal – who has already equalled his total of Grand Slam titles – passing his records.

‘My concern is more my own game, my own health, over the record,’ he added.

‘I think for them maybe this is bigger than for me at this very moment because for me it was very important to equal the record of Pete [Sampras], and potentially break it.

‘For them, maybe I’m the measuring stick – like Pete was for me.’

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