Novak Djokovic breaks the tennis record he never thought could be broken, Steffi Graf

Novak Djokovic says it is “surreal” to break Steffi Graf’s record of 377 weeks at number one in the rankings on Monday and that he is proud to surpass one of the sport’s all-time greats.

The Serb will spend his 378th week at the top of men’s tennis in Dubai, where he will play his first tournament since winning his 10th Australian Open title and a record-breaking 22nd Grand Slam title last month.

That corresponds to more than seven calendar years at the top.

“I want more successes,” Djokovic told reporters in Dubai on Sunday. “The goals drive me. I’m just as committed to the sport as everyone else.

“Of course it’s kind of surreal to be world number one for so many weeks to be able to keep up with Steffi Graf, who is one of the all-time greats of our sport, both men’s and women’s. It’s flattering to only be among those legendary names. I’m very proud of that.”

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It’s a result few thought they would ever see as Boris Becker said he didn’t think Graf’s record would ever be surpassed.

“It’s an incredible achievement,” Becker told Eurosport. “I never thought that this record could be broken.

“As a compatriot, I would have wished for Steffi Graf to be the all-time leader, but as a close friend of Novak I’m not unhappy either.

“Novak is a fantastic guy and a great champion. Records are meant to be broken. Sooner or later all records are broken, but this one belongs in the tennis history books.

“And guess what, it still counts. I think Novak will be number one for a few more weeks before someone takes his crown.”

Novak won a 10th Australian Open title. Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Former world No. 7 Barbara Schett said the result was “incredible”.

“I had so much respect for her because I played against her and played during that time. I never thought anyone would break her record. That’s what happened with Novak, that’s phenomenal,” said Schett via Eurosport.

“When he won the Australian Open earlier this year and became world No. 1 again, I thought, ‘How is that possible?’

Djokovic is unbeaten in all 12 games he has played so far this season and says he has been pain-free for a week after recovering from a torn muscle in his left Achilles tendon which he sustained in Australia.

“I’m getting closer to 100 percent. Still not there in terms of the game itself, how I feel on the pitch. But the most important thing is that there is no pain. I have no obstacles to moving on the pitch,” explained the 35-year-old.

Novak is just different. Photo by MANAN VATSYAYANA / AFPSource: AFP

Djokovic is set to start his Dubai campaign on Tuesday against Czech qualifier Tomas Machac, where Daniil Medvedev, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Andy Murray are also expected.

Last year, Dubai hosted Djokovic’s first event of the season after he was expelled from Australia over his vaccination status.

A five-time champion in Dubai, he was defeated by Jiri Vesely in the quarterfinals.

Murray, a week older than Djokovic and the Serb’s rival since his early teens, has had a stunning week in Doha, where he battled through four three-pointers before losing to Medvedev in the final.

It was a topic for Britain’s former world number one, who also put on heroic performances at the Australian Open last month.

“What’s happening now this year with his match points, he’s saved in literally every game he plays, the amount of hours he’s put in on the court since the start of the year, particularly in Australia, is just something that you have to admire and say ‘Chapeau’. because of everything he’s been through with his hip,” Djokovic said of Murray. Novak Djokovic breaks the tennis record he never thought could be broken, Steffi Graf

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