Almost two years to the day since Djokovic completed his 223rd and most recent week at No. 1, he replaces Spain’s Rafael Nadal in the top spot, atpworldtour.com reported.
Djokovic is the first player to be ranked outside the top 20 then climb to No. 1 in the same season since Marat Safin in 2000.
Safin was as low at No. 38 on February 28, 2000 before becoming No. 1 on November 20 that year. When Djokovic fell to No. 22 on May 21, 2018, it was his lowest ranking since he was No. 22 as a 19-year-old on October 2, 2006.
“Reflecting on what I've been through in the last year, it's quite a phenomenal achievement,” said Djokovic.
“And, of course, I'm very, very happy and proud about it. Five months ago, if you told me that, I would be — I always believe in myself, but it was highly improbable at that time considering my ranking and the way I played and felt on the court… I'll probably be able to speak more profoundly about it when the season is done and hopefully if I get to finish as No. 1.”
Djokovic underwent surgery on his right elbow in January after the Australian Open, which was his first tournament in six months. He reunited with long-time coach Marian Vajda at the 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 — which represented his first major title since June 2016 at Roland Garros — and at the US Open 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 semifinal, 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 Shanghai Masters title last month and additionally finished runner-up at the Fever Tree Championships at The Queen’s Club in June and at the Paris Masters on Sunday where he was beaten in straight sets (7-5, 6-4) by the 22-year-old Russian Karen Khachanov.
Djokovic and Nadal will now battle to become a five-time year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings at the Nitto ATP Finals, the season finale to be held at The O2 in London on November 11-18.