Novak Djokovic facing a double threat to his status as world No 1 – but not from Jannik Sinner
Novak Djokovic ended 2023 as the undisputed king of the men’s game, but he could be dethroned from the top of the ATP rankings as early as next month.
Djokovic will head into the Australian Open looking to win a remarkable 11th title in Melbourne and extend his record-breaking run as the world No 1 on the ATP rankings list.
The Serbian has just become the first player in history to pass through the 400-week mark at the top of the rankings and it may seem as if his dominance shows no sign of waning.
Yet with a lot of points to defend in the opening month of the new year, Djokovic will need to maintain his remarkable levels of brilliance to hang onto top spot in the rankings.
HOW IT ALL WORKS
Djokovic won the Adelaide warm-up tournament ahead of last January’s Australian Open and then won the big one in Melbourne a few weeks later.
That meant he collected a healthy harvest of 2,250 ATP rankings points from the two tournaments he played Down Under.
Those rankings points will drop off his 52-year collection next month and he will need to win both events to get them back.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 13, 2023
WHO ARE HIS RIVALS TO THE NO 1 SPOT?
Carlos Alcaraz and Daniil Medvedev both have chances to end Djokovic’s latest reign as world No 1 in the opening weeks of 2024.
Wimbledon champion Alcaraz is the most likely to threaten the top ranking as he did not play in Australia last year due to injury and any points he collects in the first month of the season will be added to his tally of 8,855 ranking points.
Djokovic will see his ranking drop to around 9,000 points before he starts his defence of the Australian Open crown and if he was to suffer a shock early exit or an injury problem, that could hand Alcaraz a real chance to take over as world No 1.
If Djokovic won the Australian Open and Djokovic was to go out in the quarter-finals or before, the No 1 ranking would belong to the young Spaniard once again.
Medvedev’s route to the top of the rankings looks a little more unlikely.
The Russian would need to win a warm-up event in Melbourne and then claim his first Australian Open title to have a realistic shot at the No 1 spot.
READ MORE: Cameron Norrie gives five reasons why Carlos Alcaraz is a better player than Jannik Sinner in feisty interview
SILVER LINING FOR DJOKOVIC
While Djokovic could lose the No 1 ranking next month, he will then be presented with a glorious chance to win it back in March.
Djokovic was denied entry into America in the first half of 2023 due to his Covid vaccine status, so he missed out on a chance to compete at the Indian Wells and Miami Masters 1000 events.
Alcaraz won Indian Wells and Medvedev claimed the title in Miami last year, so that means two of Djokovic’s chief rivals will have plenty of points to defend heading into thse two events.
By contrast, Djokovic will have no points to defend as he prepares to play at Indian Wells for the first time since 2018 and Miami for the first time since 2019.
COULD JANNIK SINNER GET IN THE MIX?
November 14th: Sinner defeats Djokovic in the Round Robin.
November 19th: Djokovic defeats Sinner in the final.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) November 19, 2023
Italian young gun Sinner ended 2023 on a real high with a stunning run of wins that included victories against Djokovic in the ATP Finals and the Davis Cup semi-finals.
Yet he not threatening the top spot in the ATP rankings yet.
World No 4 Sinner will have a big chance to gain some ground on Djokovic, Alcaraz and Medvedev in the ATP rankings when he plays at the Australian Open, as he was beaten by Stefanos Tstitsipas in the last-16 of 2023 Australian Open.
That meant he collected just 180 ranking points from that event, with 2,000 up for grabs if he could win in Melbourne next month.
Not even a win for Sinner at the Australian Open would put him at the top of the ATP rankings, with his chance to make up ground coming in the clay court season next spring, as he suffered early defeats on the red dirt that included a second round exit at the French Open.
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