Tennis players tend to grumble about rankings. After all, it’s hard to gauge the second-ranked tennis player’s level of play during tournaments in Europe, when his mind is all geared toward the U.S. Open.
That’s just how Novak Djokovic likes it.
Djokovic made it official Saturday, signing copies of his new autobiography at Sony Ericsson Wireless’ Story Factory in New York and saying he was happy he’d finally got to the top of the ATP rankings.
No longer any chagrin over the rankings, merely satisfaction that he had this career title under his belt for the seventh time.
“It’s nice to cross this one off the list after eight years,” Djokovic said. “That’s been a tough, tough journey for a lot of ups and downs.”
He added: “I’m very grateful and very happy.”
The 34-year-old Serb had already been No. 1 for a record 130 weeks, and his grip on the position loosened when he fell out of the top two after a stunning loss to Andy Murray in the French Open quarterfinals in May. Murray is now No. 2.
It’s still been a long way back for Djokovic since his best days a few years ago, when he was regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.
He has won 12 Grand Slam titles, including five of the past seven. But in 2016, he didn’t play much — he had elbow surgery and spent most of the year recovering.
He entered the U.S. Open this year ranked 20th.
In the end, he came back strong, beating Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon final and stunning Kei Nishikori in Toronto to reach the final in New York, where he earned his 20th tour title.
As things are right now, he might think about playing at least a couple more years of competitive tennis.
He’s already won $107 million, and perhaps he doesn’t mind the extra $1 million or so that comes with No. 1.
Now he has an opportunity to recapture his form and win another major title. He’s twice won the French Open, and he’s won the U.S. Open in 2011 and 2015.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)