Novak Djokovic's 2020 was marked by numerous ups and downs, both on and off the pitch. The World number 1 won the Australian Open earlier this year and posted four titles, but admitted he had some regrets about the performance of the US Open and Roland Garros.
In New York, an accidental blow to a line judge cost him disqualification, where he could have narrowed the gap that separates him from Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. In Paris Nole reached the final, but was overwhelmed by Nadal, scoring just seven games.
Speaking to the press on the eve of the Vienna tournament, the Serbian phenomenon reiterated his desire to beat Federer's week-long record at the top of the ATP rankings. The Belgrade veteran has instead distanced himself from the debate related to the GOAT.
Djokovic on the GOAT debate
"I leave the GOAT debate to others, it is not my place... I am trying to keep the No. 1 ranking. (Pete) Sampras has been my idol growing up and it would be amazing to tie his record." Novak Djokovic said.
"This temporary ranking system is on until March, for me personally it is great because I have won a lot of points," Djokovic said. "It would be a different story for me, but it was the same for everybody. I hope that I can reach historic No.
1 in March, but everything is unpredictable." Novak Djokovic will open his campaign in Vienna against fellow Serb and good friend Filip Krajinovic. "I practiced with Filip (Krajinovic) and we joked that we could be drawn in the first round," Djokovic said.
"Chances were slim, but here we go. We have a similar style of play, he likes hardcourts best, he can play quickly and he is very talented. The field is extremely strong," Djokovic said. "I respect Dominic so much, he deserved the Grand Slam title more than anybody else with the way he works.
But it’s a long way to the finals, we want it, but we have to take one match at the time. The last time I was here, I won the tournament and I have had quite a lot of support," Djokovic said. "Thank you for giving me a wild card.
They have great hotel and courts, great food, we have all the conditions we need to compete. It is fantastic that we have the opportunity to compete, we have to be grateful for that." The Serbian has still watched the event from afar over the years.
He has consistently been impressed by the fan support and the tennis culture that has been created by the likes of former World No. 1 Thomas Muster and recent US Open champion Dominic Thiem. “Vienna is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a city that is part of a country that nurtures sports and specifically tennis traditionally,” Djokovic said.
“The big credit for that goes to Thomas Muster of course, who was No. 1 in the world, and Dominic Thiem, a Grand Slam champion and other successful Austrian players contributed I think to the popularity of the sport. It’s one of the big reasons why you see every year a packed house that is sold out for Dominic’s matches especially, but also for other matches”.