Djokovic claimed top spot in the rankings when winning the 2011 Wimbledon title and remains the world number one
When Novak Djokovic takes the court for his quarter-final match at The Championships, the Serbian will have maintained his standing atop the South African Airways ATP Rankings for an entire year, having ascended to World No. 1 on 4 July, 2011 after his victory over Rafael Nadal in last year’s Wimbledon final.
“It was obviously always my ambition and my career goal to be the best at what I do,” said Djokovic. “I've been dedicating my whole life to this sport, and I was able to achieve my goals last year in Wimbledon to win my dream tournament and then become No. 1.”
The 25 year old hasn’t been affected by the pressures that come with being on top of the world in men’s tennis, triumphing on his Grand Slam debut as the top-ranked player at the 2011 US Open and following it up by successfully defending his crown at the Australian Open in January, and reaching his first Roland Garros final in Paris a few weeks ago.
“After everything finished, everything calmed down, I was hungry for more success,” Djokovic said. “I'm playing the best tennis of my life at this moment, and I'm trying to stay where I am as much as I can. But I'm not thinking about rankings too much... I just try to focus hard on every tournament, try my best at the major events, and I guess the rankings will follow up.”
Djokovic remains on a semi-final collision course with six-time champion Roger Federer, who also advanced in his fourth-round match Monday. The Swiss will reclaim the No. 1 ranking if he goes on to win the title. Federer, who defeated Xavier Malisse in four sets, moved through to his 33rd consecutive major quarter-final, an accomplishment Djokovic had nothing but praise for.
“It's [an] incredible achievement from his side. He's been the most successful tennis player, especially in the major tournaments,” stated Djokovic. He's won 16 tournaments [and] he's still coming back for more.
“He's 30 years old now, but he's still hungry to be No. 1 [in] the world. He's definitely showing why he is one of the best players ever. In the matches like today or against Benneteau, when he struggles, he comes up with the best shots and his best game when he needs to. That's what makes him so tough, this mental strength and experience that he has.”
The Serb had the advantage of being slated on Centre Court in a day that saw only three of the eight fourth-round singles matches on the men’s side completed. Djokovic rolled over countryman Viktor Troicki 6-3, 6-1, 6-3, helped by his advantage of previous experience playing under the roof and understanding its conditions.
“There is a difference I think in the speed of the ball that travels through the air. I think it's a bit slower than what it's played outdoors,” said Djokovic. “I talked with Viktor who had his debut under the roof here, and he said it's much slower than his previous matches.
“So for me, I kind of got used to it. I played only the first match outdoors, and then all the three next ones were under the closed roof. It's a bit more humid, let's say. The balls get a big bigger. Maybe the grass gets more slippery on the back of the court.”