Novak Djokovic virtually ensured equalling Pete Sampras’ record of ending the year as world No. 1 for the sixth time on Wednesday, October 28, when he reached the Vienna ATP quarterfinals.
Djokovic defeated Croatia’s Borna Coric 7-6 (13/11), 6-3 and will secure the year-end top spot as long as Rafael Nadal does not take an unlikely wild card into the Sofia event next month.
If the 33-year-old Serb wins the Vienna title on Sunday, he will make sure of the landmark regardless of whether or not Nadal plays in Bulgaria.
Djokovic, who now has 39 wins and just two defeats in 2020, has been the top-ranked player at the end of a season 5 times: in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2018.
He shares that mark with career rivals Roger Federer and Nadal.
Sampras achieved the feat 6 years in succession between 1993 and 1998.
“Sampras was my childhood idol growing up and it will be amazing to tie his record by being the year-end world No. 1 6 times,” Djokovic said on Sunday.
Djokovic also has another target – beating Federer’s all-time best of 310 weeks spent on top of the rankings.
He is currently enjoying his 292nd week in total as world No. 1.
Should he stay in pole position, he will pass Federer in early March 2021.
Djokovic, a 17-time Grand Slam title winner, is playing his first tournament since his straight sets loss to Nadal in the Roland Garros final over two weeks ago.
He is seeking a fifth title of the year and next faces either Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz or Italy’s lucky loser Lorenzo Sonego.
“It was very tiring and very challenging,” said Djokovic after his fourth win in 4 meetings with Coric, the world No. 24.
“Borna is a great fighter. He’s a very good friend of mine. Off the court we’ve known each other for quite a long time.”
Djokovic came through having saved 4 set points in the opener.
“He has kind of a similar style of tennis as I do. From the backhand corner he’s very solid and is trying to create points with his forehand.”
“He was serving very well, especially in the first set. It was very difficult for me to return his serve.”
Elsewhere, 3rd seed Stefanos Tsitsipas opened his Vienna campaign with a 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-4 win over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.
The reigning ATP Finals champion will face Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the last eight.
Russian 4th seed Daniil Medvedev also progressed with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Taiwanese lucky loser Jason Jung. – Rappler.com
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