Novak Djokovic has chance to become World No 1

Novak Djokovic has a chance to claim the No. 1 ranking for the first time if he wins this week's Italian Open.

The Serbian has won all 32 of his matches this year and beat top-ranked Rafael Nadal in straight sets on clay in the Madrid Open final on Sunday.



If Djokovic wins his seventh consecutive title of 2011 at the Foro Italico and Nadal fails to reach the semifinals, Djokovic will become the first player other than Nadal or Roger Federer to hold the No. 1 ranking since February 2004.



Djokovic already moved ahead of Federer for the No. 2 spot in March.



"If I keep winning I'll get closer but I'm trying not to think about that," Djokovic said Sunday. "It was a perfect start with the two tournaments that I won and I need to stay dedicated and focused on the upcoming events."



Djokovic began the month by winning in Belgrade and his unbeaten run to begin the year now trails only John McEnroe's 42-0 start in 1984.



"It's unbelievable what he's been able to accomplish so far this year," said Andy Roddick, the American who held the top spot briefly in 2003 and 2004.



"You can insert any number of positive adjectives and superlatives and they'll probably all be true at this point. He's playing very, very confident tennis and in his head he's in a perfect place right now, so it's going to be interesting to see how the rest of the year plays out."



If Nadal holds on this week, Djokovic could still take the top ranking at the French Open, which starts in less than two weeks. Nadal is the defending champion at Roland Garros, while Djokovic has only to defend a quarterfinal result.



"If I want to reach No. 1, I will have to play consistently well because that's what Rafa and the other players will do," Djokovic said. "Probably because of my winning streak and being in the shape of a lifetime — I'm playing the best tennis of my career — I'm probably one of the favorites (at Roland Garros)."



Djokovic also beat Nadal in the final in Key Biscayne and Indian Wells this year, but Sunday's victory was his first in 10 attempts over the Spaniard on clay.



"The No. 1 ranking is not in danger — it's finished. Let's not lie to ourselves, that's the reality," Nadal said. "Nobody likes to lose. I have to see what's missing and working with a cool, open mind to decipher things and find the solutions. To try to do a little better next time."



Nadal has won the Italian Open five of the past six years, while Djokovic took the title in 2008.



Djokovic will open against a qualifier, either Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay or Lukasz Kubot of Poland, while Nadal could face Madrid semifinalist Thomaz Bellucci in his first match.



Also Monday, no American man or woman was in the top 10 for the first time in the 38-year history of the rankings.



Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick are Nos. 11 and 12, while Serena and Venus Williams are Nos. 17 and 19, respectively.



Serena Williams has not played since winning Wimbledon last year following two foot operations and treatment for a blood clot in her lung, while Venus Williams has been sidelined since the Australian Open with a hip injury.



"I think we're kind of a victim of our own success over the years in the sport. If you still stack us up against most countries, we're coming out ahead," Roddick said Monday after his first-round loss to Gilles Simon. "I feel like I've handled my part for more than a decade."



Meanwhile, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic entered the top 10 for the first time at No. 10 following her victory over Victoria Azarenka in the Madrid women's final Sunday.

Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin visits her 1990s work ‘My Bed’ at Tate Britain in London, where it is back on display from today
artsBut how does the iconic work stand up, 16 years on?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor