Serbia's Novak Djokovic was too strong for Roger Federer in their semi-final match at the Australian Open
Serbia's Novak Djokovic Image Credit: AFP

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has confidently declared he will retire having beaten Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to claim the most Grand Slam titles in history. The Serb has also targeted becoming the longest-reigning world No. 1 by the time he hangs up his racket, the 32-year-old said.

Djokovic has 17 Grand Slam titles to his name — two behind Nadal and three fewer than Federer — and said he has no doubt in his ability to overtake the other members of the so-called ‘Big Three.’ “I’m always very confident in myself,” he said in an interview on In Depth with Graham Bensinger on Fox. “I believe I can win the most slams and break the record for longest No. 1. Those are definitely my clear goals.” Djokovic was in imperious form before the novel coronavirus pandemic brought the circuit to a halt in early March.

He lifted the ATP Cup with Serbia, won an eighth Australian Open title and then completed a fifth triumph at the Dubai Tennis Championships, extending his unbeaten run to 21.

SPO 200207 Nadal and Federer-1581084174207
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are both ahead of Novak Djokovic in the Grand Slam title stakes

Swiss great Federer also owns the record for total number of weeks at No. 1, with 310, and consecutive weeks at the top position, with 237, compared with Djokovic’s 282 and 122.

Federer turns 39 in August and Djokovic said he could envision himself still playing at 40.

“I don’t believe in limits. I think limits are only illusions of your ego or your mind,” he said.

It wasn’t too long ago that Djokovic had an entirely different outlook on the game.

After falling in straight sets to unseeded Benoit Paire at the Miami Open in 2018, his wife, Jelena, said he was ready to hang up the racket.

“He said to me that he’s quitting and that’s the truth,” she said in the interview. “He lost in Miami. It was a terrible loss. And then he just, you know, gathered all of us and said, ‘You know guys, I’m done.’” “And I was like, ‘What?’ And he goes like, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘Edoardo, you can speak with my sponsors. I want to be clear with them. I don’t know if I’m stopping for six months, a year or forever.’”

Djokovic did not go through with his retirement plans and bounced back to triumph at Wimbledon that July.