Carlos Alcaraz facing uphill battle to catch Novak Djokovic at No 1 in ATP Rankings

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic 2023 US Open
Novak Djokovic on court at the 2023 US Open

Win or lose Sunday’s US Open final, Novak Djokovic is mathematically assured of remaining at No 1 in the ATP Rankings for at least another five weeks and Carlos Alcaraz will find it difficult to catch the Serbian during the remaining few months of the season.

On the back of winning his opening match at Flushing Meadows just under a fortnight ago, Djokovic will return to No 1 after the season-ending Grand Slam as he will take over from outgoing US Open champion Alcaraz.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner will start his ninth stint at No 1 on Monday, September 11, extending his 389-week record for most weeks spent at the top in the men’s and women’s ranking.

The way Djokovic has been playing recently, it would not be a surprise if he end up staying at No 1 for the remainder of the year, but there is still a lot to play for in the coming months.

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Alcaraz started the hard-court major at Flushing Meadows with 9,815 points, but as the defending champion he dropped 2,000 points – although he did make up 720 points by reaching the semi-finals, which effectively puts him on 8,535 points.

Djokovic, who had no points to defend as he didn’t play in New York last year, began the tournament with 9,575 points and by reaching the final he will pick up 1,200 points, which currently puts him on 10,995 points. Should he defeat Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s showpiece match he will add another 800 points to the tally to move to 11,795 points.

With Alcaraz losing in the semi-final, Djokovic is already assured of a 2,460-point lead over the Spaniard and that will increase to 3,260 if he is victorious come Sunday evening.

Although Djokovic has yet to confirm his schedule, he is unlikely to be in action again until the Shanghai Masters. It means he will drop 250 points from the Tel Aviv Open (the tournament has been pushed back until November) and another 500 points for not defending his Astana Open title.

Points to defend up until October 15


Tel Aviv – 250
Astana – 500


Astana – 0

Alcaraz – who lost in the first round in Atana last year – will likely try to chip away at that lead in the coming weeks and he will next be in action at the China Open, but only 500 points will be on offer to the winner. If the Spaniard does win in Beijing it will result in a 1,250-point swing.

The complicate things further, the Astana Open points will only come off after the Shanghai Masters due to tweaks to the schedule and it means Djokovic is guaranteed to remain at No 1 until at least October 16 even if Alcaraz wins the ATP Masters 1000 title in Shanghai (the 1,250 point swing would turn into a 2,250-point difference, which is still below Djokovic’s current 2,460 buffer).

That means Djokovic will increase his record-breaking tally for most weeks at No 1 from 389 to 394, which will put him 84 weeks ahead of Roger Federer’s previous record of 310.

And let’s not forget that if he does win the US Open, it will make Alcaraz’s job tougher as the lead will be even bigger.

Points to defend after October 16


Paris – 600


Basel – 180
Paris – 180

Djokovic will no doubt have the magical 400-week mark in his mind and he could get there before the end of the year as Alcaraz has a lot of points to make up in the coming months. An undefeated title win at the season-ending ATP Finals is likely to be the 20-year-old’s only chance of denying the Serbian the year-end No 1 ranking.

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