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Monday, June 25, 2018

Pete Sampras: Novak Djokovic can challenge my No. 1 ranking record

Novak Djokovic Pete Sampras

Novak Djokovic is the current No. 1 player in the world, and he is drawing some high praise from Pete Sampras. The retired tennis legend says he thinks Djokovic can challenge his record of finishing No. 1 in the rankings at year’s end for six years in a row.

Sampras held the top spot in the world rankings at year’s end from 1993-1998. Djokovic has done it twice in a row. Sampras thinks the Serbian player can do it for many more years.

“I do [think Djokovic can remain No. 1 for years]. I was thinking about that when he won Monte Carlo,” Sampras told TENNIS.com in a conference call with the media. “He could stay No. 1 for quite a while, five or six years in a row. Realistically, if he stays healthy, he could very well do it.”

Sampras was doing the call to promote the second annual Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic, which is on September 21-22. He referenced Djokovic’s impressive win at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters last week. Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-6 on clay, which is Nadal’s specialty.

Sampras cited Djokovic’s versatility as a reason why he could challenge the mark.

“He’s so good. Really, even though the players are great today, I think he really only has to be concerned with a couple of them,” Sampras told TENNIS.com. “Roger [Federer] and Rafa and [Andy] Murray are the only ones that can really push him. I see him—if he stays healthy—staying on top for as long as he wants to be. I just think he’s that good. He wins on hard court, he wins on clay, he wins on grass. He’s done it all. I think he can stay on top for as long as he wants to be.”

Djokovic, 25, has already won six majors. He has won the Australian Open four times and Wimbledon and the US Open once. The only major to elude him has been the French — just like Sampras — though he has come much closer to winning at Roland Garros than Pete ever did. He lost to Nadal at the finals of the French Open last year, so winning at Monte Carlo this year should be a huge confidence boost for him. He also bounced back from his five-set loss to Murray at the US Open with a four-set win in the finals of the Australian in January.

Being No. 1 at year’s end for another four straight seasons would not be easy. Djokovic would have to avoid injuries and a down season. But if anyone can do it, it’s certainly him.

Photo: Twitter/Novak Djokovic

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