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    Sunday, February 25, 2024

    Novak Djokovic breaks record for most weeks ranked No. 1

    Novak Djokovic serves the ball during his open practice session on Feb. 22 in Belgrade, Serbia (Darko Vojinovic/AP Photo)

    Novak Djokovic broke the record for the most time spent at No. 1 in the professional tennis rankings by a man or woman, beginning his 378th week in the ATP’s top spot on Monday to surpass Steffi Graf’s 377 leading the WTA.

    He already held the men’s mark, eclipsing Roger Federer’s old ATP standard of 310 weeks in March 2021.

    “I’m flattered, obviously. Extremely, extremely proud and happy for this achievement,” Djokovic said in a video posted on social media, in which he referred to Graf as “one of the greatest, most legendary, tennis players.”

    After Djokovic and Graf on the all-time No. 1 weeks list are Martina Navratilova, with 332, and Serena Williams, with 319, followed by Federer. The computerized rankings began in the 1970s.

    Djokovic has finished seven years atop the ATP, another men’s record.

    The 35-year-old from Serbia returned to No. 1 this time by winning the Australian Open in January, jumping up from No. 5 to overtake Carlos Alcaraz. That title was Djokovic’s 22nd at a Grand Slam tournament, equaling Rafael Nadal for the most by a man in tennis history.

    Djokovic is 12-0 so far in 2023, heading into this week’s tournament in Dubai.

    He managed to get back to the top of the rankings despite not being able to enter a handful of big tournaments in 2022, including the Australian Open and U.S. Open, because is not vaccinated against COVID-19. Djokovic was able to compete at Melbourne Park this year after Australia relaxed its pandemic-era rules; his status for two key events in the United States that begin in March — at Indian Wells and Miami — is still in doubt, and he’s asked for permission to be allowed to travel to the country.

    Djokovic also did not get any boost from his championship at Wimbledon in 2022, because no rankings points were awarded there. The ATP and WTA both withheld points in response to the All England Club’s decision to bar players from Russia and Belarus from competing as a result of the invasion of Ukraine. It is still not known whether those athletes will be allowed to play at Wimbledon this year.

    Alcaraz, the 19-year-old from Spain who won last year’s U.S. Open, remained at No. 2 on Monday, followed by Australian Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas and two-time major finalist Casper Ruud. Taylor Fritz rose two places to a career-best No. 5, making him the first American man in the ATP’s top five since Andy Roddick in 2009.

    Nadal, who hasn’t competed since injuring his left hip flexor during a loss at the Australian Open, slid two spots to No. 8 on Monday.

    There were no changes Monday in the WTA’s top 10, where Iga Swiatek still holds a substantial lead at No. 1, with Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka at No. 1. Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open champion who beat Swiatek in the final at Dubai on Saturday, soared from No. 30 to No. 16.

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