Novak Djokovic could have ability to hold No 1 ranking taken out of his hands
Novak Djokovic will hold the No 1 ranking going into his defence of the Italian Open title, however he might not be able to stop Carlos Alcaraz from moving past him.
If Alcaraz can defend his Madrid Open title he will be positioned just five rankings points behind Djokovic heading into a week where he has no points to defend.
Alcaraz withdrew from the Italian Open last season after feeling the impact of his exertions in Spain.
While the Spaniard is on course to emulate his 2022 effort and claim both the Barcelona and Madrid titles but he will no doubt want to maintain his roll considering what went down from this point last season.
If Alcaraz wins the Madrid Open and takes his place in the main draw in Rome the following week he will already have done enough to move above Djokovic.
However, there is also another man who could play spoiler in Madrid and potentially even snatch the top ranking in Rome.
Stefanos Tsitsipas can also reach the No 1 ranking in Rome next week but first he will have to win the Madrid Open.
Following that, Tsitsipas would also need to claim the title in Rome to bag enough points to move to the summit of the rankings for the first time in his career.
Tsitsipas has been close to securing the top ranking on a few occassions but has come up short in some of his bigger matches.
If neither Tsitsipas nor Alcaraz lift the title in Madrid, Djokovic will keep the fate of the No 1 ranking in his own hands.
An early exit from Rome would likely see Djokovic toppled from the top spot provided of his closer rivals is able to lift the trophy.
Djokovic withdrew from the Madrid Open in a bid to recover from an elbow injury that hampered his progress in Monte Carlo and Banja Luka.
Realistically a group of five or six players are in the running to be world No 1 after the French Open, although a title win in Rome would likely put any member of the current top ten in the frame.
Alcaraz has the potential to shift the goalposts just a little for all those players and it goes without saying that both he and Djokovic will need to be off their game for any other player to sneak in and usurp the top spot.
Alcaraz faces Borna Coric in the Madrid Open last four while Stefanos Tsitsipas has a last eight meeting with Jan-Lennard Struff to navigate to match his performance from last term.
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