Flying high after securing record year-end No. 1 ranking, Novak becomes Superman


Serbian tennis ace Novak Djokovic is literally flying like ‘Superman’ after making history by securing the year-end No. 1 ATP ranking for a record seventh time, breaking the tie with American legend Pete Sampras.

Djokovic, who has won three majors this year — Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, though he missed out on the US Open title after losing to Russian Daniil Medvedev in the final — defeated Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in Saturday’s Rolex Paris Masters semifinals to eclipse Sampras’s record.

Soon after the historic feat, the 34-year-old was on seventh heaven, posting a series of pictures on social media from the match against Hurkacz, showing the world No. 1 airborne, quite like the fictional superhero.

“No1 flight mode ON (Grinning face with smiling eyes emoji),” tweeted Djokovic, as he posted three pictures — all showing him airborne as he attempts to play a difficult shot.

Djokovic broke a tie with Sampras, who completed six straight year-end No. 1 finishes between 1993 and 98. The Serbian has now achieved the feat in seven of the past 11 seasons (also 2011-12, 2014-15, 2018 and 2020).

The 34-year-old, who extended his record as the oldest man to finish year-end No. 1, came within one victory of completing the calendar Grand Slam in 2021. He went 27-1 at the four major championships with trophies at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. Djokovic’s bid to match the feat of Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) ended in the US Open final where he lost to world No.2 Medvedev.

It marks the 17th time in the past 18 seasons — barring Great Britain’s Andy Murray in 2016 — that the year-end No. 1 has been held by Djokovic, Spain’s Rafael Nadal (five times: 2008, 2010, 2013, 2017, 2019) or Roger Federer (five times: 2004-07, 2009).

Djokovic eclipsed Federer’s all-time mark of 310 weeks at No. 1 on March 8 and will finish 2021 having held the top ranking for 348 weeks (as of 22 November). The Serbian’s fifth stint in the top spot began the week of February 3, 2020.

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