On the eve of Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic was ranked 21st.
But then a switch flipped. He has won 24 of his next 25 matches and currently sits at No.3 – with top-ranked Spaniard Rafael Nadal in his sights.
Djokovic’s return to Grand Slam-winning form has been sudden and striking, with the Serb winning Wimbledon and the US Open back-to-back to re-enter conversations concerning GOAT status.
His latest outing was a 6-4 6-0 thumping of Marco Cecchinato – the player who stunned him in the Roland Garros quarterfinals – in the third round of the Shanghai Masters.
A victory at the Chinese tournament could vault Djokovic to within a handful of points of Nadal in the ATP race standings – a points tally which, the deeper the season goes, becomes more indicative of the rankings.
“I’m really pleased with the way I have been using my serve accurately and effectively in the first two matches, which is very important,” he said after beating Cecchinato.
“I’m going to try to do everything I can to get to No. 1. That’s probably the biggest goal at the end of the season.”
In the Shanghai quarterfinals Djokovic faces Kevin Anderson, a player against whom he is 6-1 in the head-to-head series.
Should Djokovic go on to win the title, he would increase his ranking points total to 7,445, putting him less than 1,000 points behind Nadal, who remains sidelined with a knee injury that flared up at the US Open.
Federer remains almost 500 points ahead of the Serb at No.2, but is defending 1,500 points from his tournament victories in Shanghai and Basel last year, plus an extra 600 for reaching the semis at London’s ATP Finals.
Djokovic is next scheduled to play the Paris Masters and the ATP Finals – both tournaments at which he has triumphed multiple times.
And, because he sat out the entire second half of 2017 with an elbow injury, he has no points to defend, meaning his points tally can only increase.
“He (Nadal) is still in contention for No. 1. He is the No. 1. So I am really glad that I put myself in a position to compete for No.1 of the world,” Djokovic said in Shanghai.
“And maybe four, five months ago, that was looking a little bit far from reach, but with the recent results, I put myself in a pretty decent position.”
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