Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsVideosScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

By Richard Pagliaro | Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Novak Djokovic discusses his hopes of playing Indian Wells and Miami, matching Steffi Graf's mark for most weeks as world No. 1 and his major dreams.

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve

Novak Djokovic has a ray of hope for playing the Sunshine Double.

Meeting the media for a press conference in Belgrade today, Djokovic discussed a wide variety of topics, including his "big desire" to play Indian Wells and Miami, his thoughts on matching Steffi Graff's record for most weeks as world No. 1 celebrating his 377th week in the top spot this week and his tennis dreams.

McEnroe: Complete Joke if Djokovic Can't Play Sunshine Double

The unvaccinated Djokovic requested an exemption to enter the United States and play the upcoming Sunshine Double at Indian Wells and Miami next month.

The Australian Open champion is currently ineligible to enter the United States under COVID-19 protocol. However, the U.S. government announced it will lift emergency pandemic protocol for international travelers on May 11th, which would clear Djokovic to play the US Open but leave him shut out of the Sunshine Double unless officials approve his special exemption request.

Djokovic said he's hopeful of receiving approval to play Indian Wells and Miami. Indian Wells tournament director Tommy Haas and Miami Open officials have publicly supported Djokovic's efforts to gain entry to the U.S.

"Everything is in process and I'm really thankful to Indian Wells and Miami for their support, publicly, and they would like me to be able to play," Djokovic told the media in Belgrade. "I'm really thankful for that because I have a big desire to play because I haven't played there for several years so I'm looking forward to hopefully a positive decision coming sometime soon.

"It's not in my hands so that's all I can say."

The reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon winner has the world No. 1 record in his hands. Djokovic is already well ahead of Roger Federer (310 weeks), Pete Sampras (286 weeks) and Ivan Lendl (270 weeks) for most week's as men's world No. 1 and will take sole ownership of the all-time record for most weeks at the top on Monday.

The 35-year-old Serbian superstar said it's an honor to share the record with Graf.

"Steffi Graf is one of the biggest legends of our sport in both men's and women's tennis. She is somebody that I truly admire and respect,” Djokovic said. "Of course, it is very flattering that I am able to equal her record and I have a possibility to break the record.

"Being number one in the world and winning Wimbledon was a dream. When I achieved that dream in 2011 I had to dream new dreams and set new goals. I'm very proud of it and I never take the success as my own individual success. I always try to mention my family, my team, it is so key for me to everything that I do in life."

The 22-time Grand Slam champion has been training in Serbia and returns to action at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships next week in what will be his first Tour-level appearance since he regained his Australian Open crown. The world No. 1 says the goal for Dubai, and each tournament he plays, is simple: take the title.

"As for my injury situation, I'm approaching 100 percent intensity," Djokovic said. "Things are looking good, so I made the decision with the team to go to Dubai.

"I travel tomorrow and I will try to go as far as possible, in each tournament the ambitions are the highest."

The seven-time year-end world No. 1 praised 2022 year-end No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz for his successful championship comeback in Buenos Aires.

Djokovic said "I won't call him my main rival—that's still Nadal," but commended the US Open champion as an electrifying, all-surface player and mature man off the court despite his relatively limited pro experience.

"It is impressive that he finds his best level as soon as he returns, that is something typical of a mature and experienced player," Djokovic said of Alcaraz. "He doesn't have that much, but he's showing a lot of maturity. He's a great guy, he has a very good team around him and he deserves all the success. He brings a fresh energy to tennis, with a very striking game and personality.

"He deserved to be number one and win a Grand Slam, I only have words of praise for him as a person, but also as a tennis player since he does not have many defects, he can play equally well on all surfaces. He had an injury, but continued his winning streak. At this point, I don't have to keep the top spot in the rankings as an absolute priority. There may be a change in a few weeks, but the priority is to stay healthy and in the best shape possible. When I'm good, I can win every tournament."


Latest News