Most people wouldn’t consider themselves a ‘veteran’ at the age of 27, and Novak Djokovic was no different until today. After his incredible win with some difficulty against Alexandr Dolgopolov, a reporter mentioned his upcoming quarterfinals match with the other ‘veteran’ David Ferrer. It’s almost like the first time someone calls you ma’am or Mister, the realization hits you.
After his fourth-round win over Alexandr Dolgopolov, a reporter asked Djokovic about his upcoming quarter-final match againstDavid Ferrer at the Miami Open presented by Itaú and referred to the World No. 1 and his next opponent in this way.
“Did you say ‘two veterans’?” Djokovic asked. “Thank you. That’s the first I have heard that,” he added with a laugh.
The Serb was told he had been around long enough to warrant the term, and was assured it was meant in the nicest way.
“This is a milestone,” responded Djokovic. “This is a big thing for me to hear. I have to gather my thoughts here… Reality just hit me. Thank you for that.
“It’s been a long time [that] I have been playing tennis, but I have never heard ‘veteran’.”
Having made his professional debut at the age of 16, the now 27-year-old Djokovic has been playing tennis for a while. He has also been at the top of the Emirates ATP Rankings for a long time – 140 consecutive weeks, to be exact.
“It always gets me back into childhood and those early days of my tennis career, and dreaming of becoming No. 1 in the world,” he said. “I don’t take anything for granted. I believe that it took me a lot of hard work to get to where I am. Even more work to stay.”
Djokovic is just one week from tying Rafael Nadal for the sixth-most weeks in the World No. 1 spot (since Aug 23, 1973). Roger Federer leads the way with 302 weeks spent at the top.
“I do pay attention to those milestones. I’m very proud of the achievement and being able to stay for so many weeks at No. 1 in the world… Hopefully I’m able to keep that consistency going and the self‑discipline, and I’m sure the results will follow.”