Novak Djokovic’s biggest Australian Open threat revealed – and it’s NOT Carlos Alcaraz

Kevin Palmer
Novak Djokovic was beaten by Jannik Sinner at the 2023 Davis Cup Finals
Novak Djokovic was beaten by Jannik Sinner at the 2023 Davis Cup Finals

Novak Djokovic appears to be in unstoppable form at the Australian Open, but will a challenger emerge to halt his Melbourne domination?

The world No 1 is closing in on a remarkable 11th title in the opening Grand Slam of the year, with his dominance on Rod Laver Arena seemingly complete.

Yet the players who have reached the final round of this year’s Australian Open look stronger than ever, with most of the top seeds plotting a route to the quarter-finals.

Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner, Andrey Rublev, Alexander Zverev and Hubert Hurkacz have all impressed in Melbourne this year, but in what order should they be ranked as they aim to end Djokovic’s reign as champion?

When asked prior to the tournament starting who he saw as his biggest threat, Djokovic was quick to suggest the destiny of the Australian Open title may be in his own hands once again.

“The biggest threat? Myself always first, and then of course all the other best players in the world,” he said.

“Any player is here with, I’m sure, intention to achieve the dream of winning a Grand Slam. Some players are obviously more expected to go further than some others.”

The ATP rankings are used to decide seedings for major tournaments and on those rankings, Alcaraz is the second-best player in the world behind Djokovic.

Yet the UTR rankings may offer a more realistic view of the current state of play in the men’s game, as they reflect current form a little more accurately than the ATP rankings that are made up of a rolling 52-week points calculation.

UTR Rating is a system created by UTR Sports that promotes fair and competitive play across the tennis world. All players, regardless of age, gender, geography, or skill level, are rated on the same scale between 1.00 and 16.50 based on actual match results.

Every match has an expected outcome, and your UTR Rating will go up or down based on the actual outcome compared to the expected outcome.

READ MORE: Identifying the one player who can beat Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open

Let’s say you play an opponent who has a higher rating than you. The algorithm might expect you to lose 6–2, 6–2. If you lose the match 6–4, 6–4, then your rating will go up because you have performed better than the algorithm expected.

So when Alcaraz beat Djokovic in last year’s Wimbledon final, he received a big boost to his UTR Rating and the same is true of Sinner when he beat the world No 1 at the ATP Finals and Davis Cup in November.

According to the latest UTR rankings, Alcaraz is NOT the big threat to Djokovic at the Australian Open and he is down at No 4 in the list.

Italy’s Sinner is at No 2, with Medvedev rated as the third-best player in the world.

Rafael Nadal is still on the UTR rankings list at No 5, as this calculation does not see points drop off after a 52-week cycle like the ATP list.

Zverev is at No 6, with Rublev at No 7 and Hurkacz at No 14.

That is slightly different to their current ATP rankings, with the algorithm used in this calculation reflecting their current form heading into the Australian Open.

Every player can have a UTR Rating. If you’ve played in tournaments and leagues recently, chances are that a profile has already been made for you.

If you’ve never played a competitive match but would like to start with UTR Sports, you can create a profile and you SIGN UP FOR YOUR UTR RATING HERE.