Fighting for the year-end No. 1 ranking, but also for the GOAT title
Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic participates on the ATP Masters 500 tournament in Vienna, which starts on Monday.Source: Milan Tomic
The competition in the capital of Austria is very important for our representative in the race for a No. 1 position of the caravan at the end of the season.
He will secure that position if he reaches at least the quarterfinals of this tournament, i.e. if he wins the first two matches.
Also, although Vienna is not one of the biggest tournaments, which thus bring the most points, it is important that Djokovic achieves a good result here.
Those 500 points will further distance him from his first companion Rafael Nadal, but also bring him closer to the record that is already widely talked about - the one held by Roger Federer.
It is the magic elevation "310", which indicates the number of weeks spent at the top of the ATP rankings.
The Swiss record could easily fall in March next year.
However, we are going step by step, the first step being Vienna...
After the clay tournaments, which are unusual for this time of year, Novak is moving to concrete again, which, however, suits him better.
Paris tournament, which he won last season, he canceled this year, logically and rationally.
The reason is, of course, the current way of scoring, which does not punish "unsuccessful defense of points".
The Serbian ace decided for Vienna, which he has not played since 2007, when he won the title with a 6: 4, 6: 0 victory over Stan Wawrinka.
This tournament will also serve as a preparation for the Final Masters in London, where he reached the trophy as many as five times, just like Ivan Lendl.
The two have only one less than Roger Federer.
In addition to the historical significance of this season's London, there is also the one concerning point.
Last year, Novak was eliminated in the group stage, so he will have the opportunity to reach new points.
Djokovic will start the tournament in Vienna against his compatriot Filip Krajinovic.
The two last met in Rome, when the older of the two Serbian tennis players celebrated. The result was 7: 6, 6: 3.
Krajinovic, who ended his cooperation with coach Janko Tipsarevic a few days ago, is definitely in decline.
He had a good rhythm in that "unofficial" part of the season, which was interrupted due to the coronavirus, and even after the restart at the Cincinnati Masters.
He stopped there in the quarterfinals after a great fight with Miloš Raonić, who later won the vice-champion title.
He reached the third round at the US Open and Rome, while he was eliminated at the start at Roland Garros and Cologne.
The conclusion is that Krajinović can hardly match Djokovic at this moment.
Djokovic's perhaps most inconvenient opponent on the way to the finals and the title could be waiting for him in the quarterfinals.
It is Diego Schwartzman, an Argentine who is in fantastic shape, but who is probably exhausted due to many tournaments and finals.
However, the competition is fierce, and well-known players should be expected in the semifinals.
By rank, it is to be expected that Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov will fight for that position, but Dimitrov, Khachanov, Evans and Thiem will certainly not sit idly by.
Dominic Thiem is defending champion on this tournament. The Austrian defeated Diego Schwartzman in the final last year after a 2-1 turnaround in sets.
The tournament starts on Monday and lasts until Sunday, and the prize fund is 1,409,510 dollars.
Novak's statements preceding Vienna
About the first rival:
"I trained with Filip and we joked about the draw and that we could meet in the first round. The chances were small, but here we are. We have a similar style of play, he likes hard surfaces, he can play fast on them and he is very talented. "
Conditions in Vienna:
"The hotel we are staying in is great, as are the pitches, the food is good, we have all the conditions we need to compete. In two tournaments so far (in New York and Paris) the rules have been the same. It's great that we have the opportunity to compete, we have to be grateful for that".
About "number one" and GOAT race:
This temporary ranking system has been running since March. It’s great for me because I scored a lot of points. It would be a different story if it weren’t so, but it’s the same for everyone. I hope to reach historical No.1 by March, but everything is unpredictable. I leave the discussion of GOAT to others… I'm trying to keep first place, Sampras was my idol growing up and it would be amazing to reach that record".
About the newly established association:
"Between the tournaments, Vasek Pospisil, a Canadian professional tennis player, and I are working on setting up a system, a structure. There is a lot of resistance, a lot of people have tried to discourage us, cut us at the root. Especially in America. It's an idea that has existed for more than 20 years. Goran is my coach, they had this idea 20 years ago. But four or five attempts failed".
Author: Milan Tomić