What Carlos Alcaraz’s Rio misfortune means for Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner in ATP Rankings race

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner post-match hug
Italy's Jannik Sinner, right, embraces Serbia's Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is now assured of staying at No 1 in the ATP Rankings until at least the start of April following Carlos Alcaraz’s unfortunate Rio Open exit while the world No 2 ranking is now also within Jannik Sinner’s reach.

Alcaraz had an outside chance of taking over from Djokovic at No 1 after the Sunshine Double in March, but those hopes were dashed early on in Brazil.

The two-time Grand Slam winner rolled his ankle two points into his first-round match against Thiago Monteiro and retired after the second game.

That retirement means Alcaraz will drop 300 points this week as he finished runner-up to Cameron Norrie last year and it gives Djokovic an even bigger lead at the top of the rankings while Sinner and Daniil Medvedev are also closing in on the Spaniard.

LIVE ATP Rankings

1. Novak Djokovic 9,855 points
2. Carlos Alcaraz 8,805
3. Jannik Sinner 8,270
4. Daniil Medvedev 8,015

Djkovovic’s lead is 1,050 and that will most likely grow in the coming month as he has no points to defend until the clay-court season.

The 24-time Grand Slam winner as well as Alcaraz and Sinner are next scheduled to play at the ATP Masters 1000 Indian Wells Open and the Miami Open at the beginning of March.

Medvedev, meanwhile, will headline next week’s Dubai Tennis Championships, but he has 500 points to defend as he won the title last year so he will either remain on 8,015 points or drop points.

All the big guns will then feature at the Indian Wells Open and this time Alcaraz will drop 1,000 points at the start of the event as he is the defending champion while Medvedev will drop 600 points after finishing runner-up last year. Sinner lost in the semi-final (360) while Djokovic didn’t compete.

So even if Alcaraz ends up successfully defending his title, Djokovic’s 1,050-point lead will only get bigger with the margin dependent on which round he reaches.

If Alcaraz loses early or doesn’t defend his title due to injury, it will not only help Djokovic to move further ahead, but Sinner could potentially replace him as the world No 2 after the Indian Wells event.

It will be a similar case for the Miami Open as Medvedev has 1,000 points to defend, Sinner (600) and Alcaraz (360) while Djokovic didn’t compete last year.

Djokovic is thus assured of staying at No 1 until after the Miami Open (April 1) which will see him move to 418 weeks at No 1 in the ATP Rankings.

However, it is not mathematically impossible for Sinner to pip Djokovic to No 1, but he would then have to accept a late wildcard for an ATP 500 event next week (Dubai or Acapulco), win that event and follow it up with title runs at the Indian Wells Open and Miami Open.

Not impossible, but highly unlikely.

READ MORE: WATCH: Carlos Alcaraz has a ‘ball on his ankle’ after unfortunate Rio Open incident