Timeline of when Carlos Alcaraz could take Novak Djokovic’s No 1 ranking
An epic tennis year is gearing up for a thrilling conclusion and once again, two men are set to dominate the headlines.
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz are the shining stars of the men’s game and have claimed all four Grand Slam titles in 2023 and now they are ready to battle it out for the prized year-end ATP world No 1 ranking.
Djokovic’s three dominant wins at the Australian Open, French Open and US Open confirmed he is still the man to beat at the top of the game, even though he has already celebrated his 36th birthday.
His youthful rival spent a chunk of this year at the top of the ATP rankings, with his victory over Djokovic in the Wimbledon final last July sparking some suggestions that he is ready to claim the throne as the king of the men’s game.
Those who wrote off Djokovic after this Wimbledon defeat did so prematurely, with the Serbian master returning to his best form as he beat Alcaraz in an epic Cincinnati Masters final and then backed it up with a commanding US Open win.
That success at Flushing Meadows has given Djokovic a 3,260-point lead over Alcaraz in the current ATP rankings, but that looks certain to tighten up over the final weeks of this season.
The ATP rankings operate around an annual system that sees points collected drop off 12 months later and Djokovic has a lot more points to defend than Alcaraz over the next few weeks.
Including his win at the ATP Finals last year, Djokovic has 2,850 points to defend over the next few weeks, with Alcaraz having just 360 points dropping off his total between now and the conclusion of the ATP Finals in Turin.
Djokovic has opted not to play in the upcoming Shanghai Masters, so this presents Alcaraz with a chance to make up ground.
He is also playing in the China Open ahead of the Masters 1000 event in Shanghai, giving the Spaniard an opportunity to collect 1,500 points at a time when his big rival is not playing.
Alcaraz could then play in the ATP 500 event in Tokyo if he is looking to claim additional ranking points in the chase to secure the year-end No 1 ranking, but he is currently not on the entry list for an event that gets underway on October 16th.
The ATP 500 event in Basel could be another chance for Alcaraz to claim points the week before he plays in Paris, where Djokovic is expected to return.
If Alcaraz was successful in the tournaments in China and possibly at Basel, he could be in a position to take the No 1 ranking from Djokovic in his final two events of the year at the Paris Masters and the ATP Finals.
Points to defend before the end of 2023
Tel Aviv – 250
Astana – 500Paris – 600
ATP Finals – 1,500
Basel – 180
Paris – 180
The dream scenario for tennis fans would see Djokovic and Alcaraz go head-to-head in the ATP Finals in what would be the ultimate showdown between the two gladiators.
Djokovic has sealed the year-end world No 1 ranking on a record seven occasions, but he was beaten to the crown by Alcaraz last year.
“I think Novak and I, we are having a beautiful fight for the No 1. I am going to go for it,” said Alcaraz.
“Everything came very fast for me in my career. A first Masters title, then the US Open, then world No 1, but we know Novak is very strong and he will always come back.
“It is a motivation for me to have this battle for No 1. It is a big target for me to get it back before the end of this year.”
Djokovic’s motivation to be the year-end world No 1 is clearly not as strong as it is for Alcaraz, as he could have played in tournaments in China and Japan to boost his hopes of finishing 2023 at the top of the list.
Yet when the two big hitters of the men’s resume their battle next month, it is certain to be a contest filled with intensity.
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