On Monday, Djokovic started his 378th week as the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world No. 1, spending the most weeks in that spot since the ATP ranking system began in 1973.
A week ago, Djokovic matched the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) leader, Graf, who held the top spot for 377 weeks in her career.
“With your love and great strength that you have given me over the years, I’ve managed to achieve many fantastic achievements throughout my career,” Djokovic said in a video message to fans, shared by the ATP.
“The most recent one breaking the record of 378 weeks on No. 1 rankings, surpassing one of the greatest, most legendary tennis players – both men and women – that ever played, Steffi Graf. So I’m flattered, obviously extremely, extremely proud and happy for this achievement.”
Djokovic jumped back up to No. 1 when he won the Australian Open last month. It was his 22nd major title, tying him with Rafael Nadal for the most grand slam singles titles in men’s tennis.
The 35-year-old will return to the court this week as the top seed in the Dubai Tennis Championships, his first tournament since the Australian Open.
The Serb has been out of action with a hamstring injury but told reporters he has been “pain free” for a week heading into his first match against the Czech Republic’s Tomás Machác on Tuesday.
It’s yet to be seen where and when Djokovic will play after Dubai, with his participation at next month’s Indian Wells and Miami Open tournaments in doubt.
The United States still requires international visitors to be vaccinated against Covid-19, and Djokovic, who has previously confirmed that he remains unvaccinated, has now applied for special permission to enter the country ahead of both tournaments, which start on March 6 and March 20 respectively.
“All I can do is hope at the moment because, you know, my position stays the same. There’s not much else I can do except wish for a positive result,” Djokovic previously told reporters.