Novak Djokovic says it took “a lot of blood, sweat and tears” to break Roger Federer’s record of 310 weeks, which was ranked # 1 in the world.
The 33-year-old Serbian player broke the record on Monday for most weeks in first place in the 48-year history of the ATP rankings.
“My family supported me for the first day,” he told BBC World Service.
Djokovic won his 18th Grand Slam title and ninth Australian Open title in Melbourne last month.
Djokovic, who had the longest-running rally at the summit in 122 weeks between July 2014 and November 2016, paid tribute to the 39-year-old Federer, who is competing in this week’s Qatar Open, his first tournament since the Australian Open in 2020.
“What Roger does at his age is very inspiring for me and many other tennis players, and it’s great to see him come back,” Djokovic said.
The Serbian win at the Australian Open left him with only two wins behind the men’s singles Grand Slam record-holders Federer and Rafael Nadal – the men he said made him the player he is today.
“When I started out in professional tennis for men 15 years ago, I faced two of the biggest challenges, and that was beating Roger and Rafa.
“In 2008, when I won my first major tournament, I thought it was the right time for me now. I will be competing with these men; I have the potential to win the Grand Slams.
“But then, for three years, I hadn’t won any major titles and had lost most of my big matches against them.
“They really made me sit down and realize what I need to do, and how I need to improve in order to win them over.
“They definitely made me the player I am today. Those competitions are the most influential on tennis and its development,” he said.
After setting a new world record, Djokovic is focusing on adding his Grand Slam titles.
He said, “I cannot escape the fact that I am no longer 23 years old, so I must try to be smart in my schedule and be able to emphasize the Grand Slams and prioritize them.”