Hundreds of Novak Djokovic supporters staged boisterous street celebrations after the Serbian tennis superstar became the sole record-holder for most weeks overall as the men’s world number one.
Djokovic topped the ATP rankings for the 311th week in his career, surpassing Roger Federer’s tally of 310.
The 33-year-old’s latest stint at the top of the standings began in February 2020, when he reclaimed top spot from Spain’s Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic and his family joined crowds watching fireworks in front of their restaurant in the new part of Belgrade.
Main buildings downtown in the Serbian capital were lit with his portrait, including a light show displaying the best moments of his career.
Jubilant fans chanted “Nolo, Nolo,” waved Serbian flags, and kept no social distancing despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Djokovic had received serious criticism last year for his organisation of the Adria Cup charity tennis tournament in the midst of the pandemic.
A number of players, including Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Djokovic himself tested positive for COVID-19 amid a lack of social distancing.
At the celebration Djokovic addressed the crowd, saying, “Today is a special day for myself, my family as well as Serbia. Thank you for the success which is not only mine but of the whole nation.”
“Big day today,” Djokovic tweeted earlier on Monday.
He first reached number one on July 4, 2011, a day after he won Wimbledon for the first time by beating top-ranked Rafael Nadal in the final.
Djokovic’s ascent represented the first time in nearly seven and a half years that a man other than Federer or Nadal was number one in the world.
“Any athlete in the world dreams of being number one of the world. This is something that gives us a lot of motivation,” Djokovic said back then, when the ATP marked the occasion by presenting him with a cake shaped like the numeral “1” in the red, blue and white colours of Serbia’s flag.
“So finally, when you really do it, and when you know that you’re the best, it’s just an amazing achievement.”
Djokovic has gone on to win five titles at the All England Club, along with nine at the Australian Open, three at the US Open and one at the French Open.
His total of 18 grand slam singles trophies trails only the 20 claimed by Federer and Nadal for the men’s mark.
Djokovic has now had five separate stays at number one and finished six seasons at the top, tying Pete Sampras for the most.
Sampras held the total weeks record of 286 until Federer surpassed him in July 2012. Ivan Lendl stands fourth with 270, and Jimmy Connors is next at 268.
Most weeks at number one
Novak Djokovic (SERBIA) – 311
Roger Federer (SWI) — 310
Pete Sampras (USA) — 286
Ivan Lendl (USA) — 270
Jimmy Connors (USA) — 268
Rafael Nadal (SPA) — 209
John McEnroe (USA) — 170
Björn Borg (SWE) – 109
Andre Agassi (USA) – 101
Lleyton Hewitt (AUS) — 80
Source: ATP/ABC Australia
7-year-old @DjokerNole wanted to become No.1 ☺️
26 years later, he's the No.1 of No.1s…🤯
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 8, 2021