PARIS (AP) — Amid the joy of becoming a father, Novak Djokovic has to turn his attention back to tennis rather quickly as he tries to fend off Roger Federer for the year-end No. 1 ranking.
Djokovic is defending his title at the Paris Masters this week, his first tournament since the birth of his first child last week. He has left the boy, Stefan, at home with his wife Jelena, but said Monday he hopes to incorporate his family life into his tennis travels next year.
“I would like to be with him every single day and with my wife,” Djokovic said, “but sometimes that’s not possible, like this week for example . because the baby is too young to travel yet.”
Djokovic leads Federer by 2,230 points in the world rankings. But the top-ranked Serb has 2,500 points to defend as he won the Paris Masters and the ATP World Tour Finals last year, while Federer can gain points as he lost in the semifinals of both events.
“Honestly, the way I feel right now, I feel like I’m already No. 1 with becoming a father last week. For me, this is the most important moment in my life,” said Djokovic, who topped the rankings at the end of 2011 and 2012.”
But, he added: “Of course it is, for both of us, the goal (is) to finish the year as No. 1 of the world. Of course it’s a big objective.”
Federer won the Swiss Indoors title in his hometown tournament on Sunday. The 17-time Grand Slam champion could finish the season as the top player for the sixth time and tie Pete Sampras’ record.
“This year he came out strong again,” Djokovic said, “competing for Grand Slam titles, now competing for No. 1 of the world. And I never thought that he’s not a competition for No. 1 of the world.”
Last year, Federer was bothered by a sore back and went through one the worst seasons of his career, winning only one title.
“I don’t think that age is an issue for him,” Djokovic said. “As a matter of fact, I think he’s playing some of his best tennis this year.”
Djokovic and Federer are tied for most titles this season with five each and could meet in the final of the Paris Masters. Federer leads 3-2 against Djokovic this year and has a 19-17 career record against the Serb.
Djokovic had a first-round bye this week and will face Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany in the second round on Tuesday.
Djokovic is the third father in the top five, joining Switzerland’s Federer and Stan Wawrinka.
“There are many other players who have the similar situation,” Djokovic said, “so I try to talk with them and get some tips or some necessary experiences that they can share with me, so it can help in my own case.
“I hope that it’s going to affect positively on my career. In terms of my approach to the tennis, nothing is really changing. I’m still out here, still fighting, competing, and then trying to be No. 1 of the world.”
Djokovic and Jelena were married in July, a few days after the Serb won his second Wimbledon title. They met in high school and have been together for more than eight years.
“I will try to have my family travel with me as much as they can, obviously” Djokovic said. “For me, it’s important to participate in my child’s life as much as I can. . Starting from next year, we’ll try to be together. It’s not easy, the kind of lifestyle that a tennis player has. There is a lot of traveling, a lot of hotels, a lot of planes. So it’s not, let’s say, the healthiest option for a baby.”
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