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Novak Djokovic is already assured of moving into second place on the list of most weeks at world No.1 on Monday 21 September, the day the Internazionali BNL d’Italia concludes, but victory on the final day of the tournament will also see him clinch the record for most Masters-1000 titles.
Monday 21 September will be the Serb’s 287th week at the head of the rankings and will see him surpass Pete Sampras’ 286 weeks at the top. Roger Federer holds the record with 310 weeks as world No.1.
“Pete was my childhood idol growing up, so of course surpassing his records is very special to me. I always looked up to him, and I wished to be mentally strong and resilient as he is, especially in the big tournaments, in the big moments. You know, he’s one of the mentally most composed and toughest players ever to hold a racquet,” said the world No.1.
“Him being a No. 1 in the world for so many weeks, you know, proves how tough he was. This is one of my two, I would say, biggest professional goals, you know, is to reach the record of, surpass Roger’s record for longest No. 1 and win as many slams as possible. I have been saying that before, so I’m working towards that. I’m at a good place right now, in a good position. Hopefully I can stay healthy and continue to play well.”
Djokovic won the title at Cincinnati last month to take his Masters-1000 title tally to 35 and equal Nadal at the top of the leaderboard. The Italian Open is the second of three Masters-1000 events to take place in 2020, the remaining one will be Paris in November.
Djokovic is back in action at the Foro Italico for the first time since he was defaulted in the fourth round at the US Open for unintentionally hitting a line judge with a ball.
“Well, of course it was a shock to finish the US Open in the way it was finished for me. First time in my career that something like this happens,” said the 17-time Grand Slam champion.
“There was a lot of speculations and discussions whether it was deserved or not. I accepted it and moved on. I checked with Laura after the match. She said that she was fine. No big injuries. I felt really sorry to cause the shock and drama to her, because, you know, she didn’t deserve that in any way. She obviously is volunteering, as well, and doing her work.”
“So I accepted it, and I had to move on. That’s what I did. Of course I did not forget about it. I don’t think I will ever forget about it, because it’s one of these things that stays in your memory for the rest of your life.”
Djokovic, a four-time Rome champion, will take on either qualifier Tennys Sandgren or wildcard Salvatore Caruso in his opening round match.