Rankings Watch: the 7 men battling to seal a top tier seeding at Roland Garros

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud after their Monte Carlo final
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud boosted their seeding chances thanks to their Monte Carlo success

The clay court season is well and truly underway and while there are plenty of big events still to come, everyone will have half an eye on Roland Garros.

And that will mean several players will jostle for position and try to secure the best seeding possible for the second major of 2024.

Being a top eight seed at a Grand Slam is often vital for your chances of success, and things are hotting up around the periphery of the top 10.

Less than 700 points separate the world No 6 and world No 12, and things look even more interesting after a dramatic week at the Monte Carlo Masters.

The world’s top five – Novak Djokovic, Jannik Sinner, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev, and Alexander Zverev – are all but guaranteed to stay as the top five over the next month.

But below them, a real dogfight is underway.

Casper Ruud – world No 6, 4,025 points

Ruud’s run to the Roland Garros final in 2023 was his only significant highlight in a below-par season, which saw him drop down to end the season at world No 11.

However, the Norwegian has looked back nearer his best in the opening months of 2024 and has reached an impressive three finals – most notably in Monte Carlo just a few days ago.

The big challenge for Ruud is defending 360 points from his Rome semi-final run last year, but he could stay in the top eight without those points – especially with a good run in Barcelona this week.

Considering he is a strong clay courter in good form – and with few points to defend in Madrid – you would have to back Ruud to seal a top eight seeding.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas – world No 7, 3,995 points

Tsitsipas is another play who has recently fallen out of the top 10, only to rediscover his best form and regain his place inside the game’s elite.

A third title in Monte Carlo saw him rise from 12th to seventh in the ATP Rankings, and will now feel more than confident on his favourite surface.

He has finalist points to defend in Barcelona this week, though he may now be the favourite to win the event after Alcaraz’s withdrawal.

The Greek has quarter-final points in Madrid and semi-final points in Rome to defend, so nothing is guaranteed for Roland Garros.

But with a stronger seeding guaranteed at those two Masters 1000 events now, he will believe he can do enough to stay at least where he is.

Andrey Rublev – world No 8, 3,935 points

This is where things begin to get interesting, with Rublev currently in poor form.

The world No 8 struggled across the Sunshine Double in the aftermath of his Dubai default and then lost in the opening match of his Monte Carlo title defence – dropping two ranking spots.

Rublev’s five career titles on the dirt show his capabilities on the surface, but he may need to find something extra across Madrid, and Rome to maintain a top eight placing – especially after his early loss in Barcelona.

With fourth round runs in Madrid and Rome last year, he doesn’t have a bucketload of points to defend, but there is still work to do – especially considering the chasing pack behind him.

Hubert Hurkacz – world No 9, 3,675 points

Hurkacz threw a cat among the pigeons at the very start of the clay court season with a surprise triumph at the ATP 250 event in Estoril.

The Pole was the second seed at the tournament but has rarely found his footing on the dirt, so his eighth ATP title coming at the event is significant.

The world No 9 was beaten by Ruud in Monte Carlo and is not in action this week,  but he does not have many points to defend across the next month.

He was beaten in the third round of Madrid last year and then lost in the second round of Rome, so faces virtually no ranking pressure across the upcoming Masters 1000 competitions.

Hurkacz is certainly not a natural clay court despite his Estoril triumph and little will be expected of him before Roland Garros, but he is in a solid position to take advantage if anyone falters.

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Grigor Dimitrov – world No 10, 3,640 points

Dimitrov is another man who has looked reborn recently, with a title in Brisbane and a final in Miami in 2024.

But there is no denying that clay is his weakest surface; while he is a semi-finalist at the three other Slams, he has only ever reached the fourth round twice at Roland Garros.

Much like Hurkacz, the Bulgarian has the advantage of having to defend minimal points in the coming weeks, reaching only the third round of Madrid and Rome in 2023.

It is certainly possible for Dimitrov in his current form to make a couple of decent runs and get himself up to eighth, though he will need to find the best clay tennis of his career.

Alex de Minaur – world No 11, 3,510 points

Few players have improved as much as de Minaur since the start of last season, with the Australian having moved from being a solid top 30 player to a career high of 10th in the world this year.

De Minaur has become one of the most difficult players on the ATP to beat on hard courts and grass, and there are positive signs for him on clay.

The 25-year-old has never made it past round two at Roland Garros though has already reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final on the dirt in Monte Carlo last week.

With only round three and round two runs in Madrid and Rome last year, performances similar to that in Monte Carlo may put him in a strong position – though he will likely need a couple of players to drop points.

Holger Rune – world No 12, 3,395 points

Rune is undoubtedly someone who loves playing on clay, but his quarter-final exit in Monte Carlo last week has put him in a tough spot.

The Dane has struggled for form in recent months and having failed to defend his finalist points from last season, he finds himself back out of the top 10.

Rune is capable of getting himself back up the rankings but doing that before Roland Garros will be tough.

He has 250 points to defend from his 2023 Munich victory this week, while he has finalist points in Rome to defend in May.

The world No 12 will need a near-flawless clay season to get into the top eight by the second Slam of 2024.

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