Just eight days after losing the US Open final and missing a chance to win a calendar Grand Slam, Novak Djokovic has earned a ranking milestone on Monday. The 20-time Major winner became the fifth player since the start of the ATP rankings in 1973 with 700 weeks in the top 10, joining Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi on the exclusive roster.
Novak claimed his first professional title in 2003 at age 16 and finished the following season in the top-200. Debuting in a Major at the 2005 Australian Open as a qualifier, Novak was ready to challenge higher-ranked opponents that year, earning at least one win in the next three Majors and finishing the year in the top 100 for the first time despite a light schedule.
The sky was the limit for the Belgrade native after scoring 40 ATP victories in 2006, advancing to the quarter-finals at Roland Garros and lifting the first ATP trophy at Amersfoort in July. In October, Djokovic was the last man standing in Metz, working his way to the top 20 and preparing an even stronger round in 2007.
By losing the first Masters 1000 final at Indian Wells in March, Novak racked up enough points to find himself in the top 10 for the first time. The Serbian served as the top 10 player in Miami and went all the way for the most notable title before his 20th birthday.
Bubanj speaks about Novak Djokovic
Former selector of the Serbian Davis Cup team Goran Bubanj recently weighed in on Novak Djokovic's performance in the US Open 2021 final. Bubanj claimed Djokovic was well below par in the match, and according to him that had nothing to do with the Serb's relatively tougher path to the final.
"He (Medvedev) had a completely open draw and objectively fewer challenges, but that is not a reason for the more rested to be better in the final," Bubanj said in a recent interview with Sputnik. "This can often be the other way around.
The whole final did not depend on Medvedev, but exclusively on Novak." The former head of the Tennis Association in Belgrade also commented on how Djokovic lacked a clear game plan. In contrast, Medvedev's confidence grew exponentially with each hurdle that he overcame.
"When someone saves three break points, like Medvedev, you get some additional stimulus, self-confidence," Bubanj said. "After that, Novak had no more chances. It is a match that lasted incomprehensibly short for both Novak and anyone else's standards at one Grand Slam."
But despite Novak Djokovic's failure to win the US Open, Goran Bubanj highlighted how the Serb's season was still a historic one. "We should just go back and say that this is the year in which Novak Djokovic won three Grand Slams and played the finals in the fourth. That year, no matter who looks at it, in 50 years he will say that it is the year of Novak Djokovic."