By the time he finally hangs up his racket, Novak Djokovic could have an entire chapter dedicated to him in the Guinness Book of Records.
But that time doesn’t look to be coming up any time soon, with the 36-year-old still the most dominant force in men’s tennis by a country mile.
Djokovic proved as much at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in 2023, defeating Jannik Sinner in the final to lift the trophy for a seventh time.
It means that the Serbian will start the new season as the world number one for an eighth time – a record in itself in the men’s game, while he has now also spent 400 weeks at the summit of the world rankings in total; the first player to pass that milestone number.
To that end, it would probably be fair to describe Djokovic as the most dominant champion in tennis history….
What is the Men’s Tennis Record for Weeks at Number One?
Djokovic’s sole membership of the 400 club will take some beating – in fact, it’s a record that may never be bettered.
The Serbian has enjoyed ten different reigns as world number one – combined, they add up to the 400 week mark….and counting.
He first ascended to the top of the rankings as far back as July 2011 – a year in which he won three of the four Grand Slam events. Djokovic’s first reign would last just over a year, 53 weeks to be precise, before he would be usurped.
Between November 2012 and November 2016, Djokovic would spend some 170 weeks as the world number one, but then it would take two years before he would regain the mantle.
He enjoyed comprehensive dominance for a few years thereafter, but the staccato nature of the ATP Tour – or, at least, Djokovic’s involvement in it as he picks and chooses his events in his advancing years – means that he’s been number one for a few weeks here and there since the summer of 2022.
But to offer some kind of context as to his dominance of men’s tennis, since 1973 (when the world rankings were founded) the closest challenger to Djokovic’s 400-week spell at the summit is Roger Federer’s 310 weeks – even the great Pete Sampras, in a pretty uncompetitive era of tennis in the 1990s, only spent 286 weeks as the top dog.
Who Has Spent the Most Weeks at Number One in Women’s Tennis?
So, if we’re anointing Djokovic as the king of men’s tennis, then Steffi Graf has to be considered the queen of the women’s game.
She reigned as the world number one in the ladies’ singles rankings for a total of 377 weeks – second only to Djokovic as far as that measure of success is concerned.
The only other female players with 300 or more weeks at the summit under their belts are Martina Navratilova (332) and Serena Williams (319), while for context of those still playing – at the time of writing – Iga Swiatek leads the way with just 78 weeks to her name.
Who is the Most Dominant Tennis Player of All Time?
At the end of their careers, elite tennis players probably reflect on the number of replica Grand Slam trophies they have in their collection as to their success in the sport.
But there are, of course, just four majors to play for each year on the tennis calendar, and so therefore perhaps the number of weeks occupying number one in the world rankings is a better measure of success.
In that spirit, the number of consecutive weeks spent at number one would surely mark out the most dominant players – to that end, it’s not Djokovic that will go down as the unbreakable force of tennis.
Instead, that accolade has to go to Roger Federer, who spent an uninterrupted period of a staggering 237 weeks – that’s nearly five years, remember – as the ATP number one between February 2004 and August 2008.
In that span, the Swiss ace clocked up eleven Grand Slam victories and won three editions of the season-ending tournament now known as the ATP World Tour finals. To make matters all the more impressive, the next best record in men’s tennis for consecutive weeks at number one is 160, courtesy of Jimmy Connors.
In women’s tennis, Graf is once again at the summit of a record – spending 186 successive weeks as world number one between August 1987 and March 1991.
But she was joined on that mark in September 2016 by Serena Williams, who agonisingly couldn’t cling on for another week to break Graf’s record and create a new milestone of her own as Angelique Kerber won that month’s US Open.