Dubai: Four-time champion and hot favourite Novak Djokovic is confident that his top ranking in men’s tennis is bound to bring in the results over a period of time.
Returning to Dubai after a four-year gap, Djokovic breezed past Malek Jaziri of Tunisia 6-1, 6-2 in an hour to set up a meeting against the experienced German, Philipp Kohlschreiber, who had defeated him at Indian Wells last year.
Djokovic came into this week with a clean 13-0 record for 2020 with a 16-match winning streak - dating back to the Davis Cup Finals and followed by the inaugural ATP Cup won by Serbia and the season-opening Australian Open crown. The record-extending eighth title in Melbourne for the Serbian put him on par with Ken Rosewell as the only two men to have won a Grand Slam title in three different decades.
Djokovic has now been No.1 in the FedEx ATP rankings for a total of 279 weeks and this is the seventh time that he is seeded No.1 in Dubai and has been slowly catching up with the rest of the field in the record books since the start of the Open Era in 1968. Last year, Roger Federer won his eighth title in Dubai while picking up his 100th singles career crown - before going on to add another three titles against his name to find himself second in the all-time list behind Jimmy Connors’ 109 titles.
Ivan Lendl is third with 94 followed by Rafael Nadal (84) and Djokovic (78) in fourth and fifth places. Djokovic is not too bothered about such records as long as he can perform well and hold onto his world number one spot. “Yes of course, I am aware of the number one spot but that’s not one of the highest goals to be honest,” Djokovic told media after brushing aside Malek Jaziri late on Monday.
“I’ve mentioned it: the highest goal for this season is to hold on to the No. 1 spot, the Olympics and the grand slams. I think every next season that I play - hopefully I still want to play and still like to compete - grand slams will be right up there. The titles, I guess, will hopefully come as a consequence of high performance,” he added.
Up against Kohlschreiber in the second round late on Wednesday, Djokovic is aware of what he can expect from his crafty opponent from Germany. “I lost to him [Kohlschreiber] in straight sets in Indian Wells last year. I am aware of what he’s capable of. He likes actually playing top players on a big stage,” the Serb said.
“He has lots of experience. He’s very fit and keeps on playing even at that age on a high level. I certainly will not underestimate him. I will prepare myself. I’m feeling good on the court and hopefully that can continue in the next match,” he added.