Novak Djokovic was today presented with the 2018 year-end ATP World Tour No. 1 trophy during an on-court presentation at the Nitto ATP Finals, the season finale at The O2 in London. The Serbian is one of only four players in ATP Rankings history (since 1973) to have clinched the year-end top spot on five (or more) occasions, joining Pete Sampras (six), Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer (both five times).
Djokovic, who replaced Spain’s Rafael Nadal at No. 1 on 5 November, has completed a remarkable comeback to top form in 2018, capturing four titles—including two Grand Slams and two ATP World Tour Masters 1000s – from six tour-level finals. Aged 31 and six months, Djokovic is the oldest player to finish year-end No. 1 in ATP Rankings history. Having previously finished at the top in 2011-12, 2014-15, he is the second player — after Nadal (2008, 2010, 2013 and 2017) — with three stints as year-end No. 1.
He is also the first player to be ranked outside the Top 20 and finish the same season at No. 1 in the history of the ATP Rankings. Russia’s Marat Safin was as low at No. 38 on 28 February 2000 before becoming No. 1 on 20 November that year, but he did not finish the season at No. 1. When Djokovic fell to No. 22 on 21 May 2018, it was his lowest ranking since he was No. 22 as a 19-year-old on 2 October 2006.
“Next to the Grand Slams and the [Nitto] ATP Finals, being No. 1 is probably the ultimate challenge in our sport,” said Djokovic. “It’s the pinnacle of the entire season. I’m very proud of that achievement and it’s extra special this year because of the whole process and the journey that I’ve been through in the past 15 months. In particularly, the past 8-10 months.
“After February’s elbow surgery, it looked quite improbable that I’d be in this position as a year-end No. 1. Not just because of the rankings, being No. 22, but also because of how I felt on the court and how I played. But there was always a part of me that believed I could make it back and I never thought it was impossible.”
Djokovic first ascended to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings aged 24 on 4 July 2011 for a total of 53 weeks until 8 July 2012. The Serbian returned to top spot on two further occasions between 5 November 2012 and 6 October 2013 (48 weeks) and from 7 July 2014 to 6 November 2016 (122 weeks).
Djokovic underwent surgery on his right elbow after the Australian Open, which was his first tournament in six months. He reunited with long-time coach Marian Vajda at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April and entered the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in May with a 6-6 record. Djokovic has since compiled a 43-5 match record, including a 31-2 mark since the start of Wimbledon.
The 31-year-old won two Grand Slam championship crowns at Wimbledon (d. Anderson) — which represented his first major title since June 2016 at Roland Garros — and at the US Open (d. Del Potro) for the third time in the same season (also 2011 and 2015). As the World No. 21 at Wimbledon, he was the lowest-ranked major champion since No. 44-ranked Gaston Gaudio at 2004 Roland Garros. He defeated Nadal 10-8 in the fifth set of their Wimbledon semi-final, which lasted five hours and 15 minutes.
By beating Roger Federer in August at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Djokovic became the first player to win titles at all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events since the start of the tournament series in 1990. He captured his fourth Rolex Shanghai Masters title (d. Coric) last month and additionally finished runner-up at the Fever Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club (l. to Cilic) in June and at the Rolex Paris Masters (l. to Khachanov) last week.
Djokovic, a five-time former champion at the Nitto ATP Finals, competes this week at The O2 in London in Group Guga Kuerten alongside Alexander Zverev, Marin Cilic and first-time participant John Isner. Six-time former champion Federer features in Group Lleyton Hewitt with Kevin Anderson, Dominic Thiem and Kei Nishikori.
Learn more about the players who have held the No. 1 ATP Rankings
Learn more about the history of the ATP Rankings