Why Novak Djokovic could still be world No 1 after a year of chaos

Novak Djokovic with Wimbledon trophy

Novak Djokovic finds himself languishing at No 7 in the latest ATP rankings, but the Serbian might still be the world No 1 if circumstances were different.

The 35-year-old confirmed he is still a class above the chasing pack on grass courts as he stormed to victory at Wimbledon on July, securing his seventh title on the grass courts at the All England Club.

That triumph should have guaranteed Djokovic 2,000 ranking points would remain on his record from 2021, as he successfully defended his Wimbledon title.

Yet the ATP’s decision to strip Wimbledon of ranking points following their decision to ban Russian and Belarusian players from competing denied Djokovic those valuable ranking points that would currently see him placed at No 4 in ATP standings.

That is only part of Djokovic’s problem in 2022, as his decision to decline a Covid vaccine ensured he missed January’s Australian Open and was unable to defend his title, losing 2,000 as a result.

He then sat out ATP Masters events at Indian Wells and Miami, losing the chance to compete for another 2,000 ranking points and missed all of the American hard court swing, including the Montreal and Cincinnati Masters, that both offered 1,000 ranking points to their winners.

He then missed out on the 2,000 ranking points up for grabs for the winner of the US Open and the chance to collect 1,200 if he had matches his efforts of 2021 and reached the final.

Not including ranking points for smaller events he could have entered in America after Wimbledon, Djokovic has been unable to compete for 10,000 ranking points his rivals have competed for over the course of this year.

Even if had collected half of those points, and that is a reasonable assessment given his record in all those events, he would be confirmably ahead of new world No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.

Of course, Djokovic has opted not to compete in many of the events he has missed after deciding against a Covid vaccine, with former world No 1 John McEnroe telling Tennis365 that he made his own decision to suffer a rankings slump this year.

“I don’t agree with his decision not to get vaccinated, but I respect it,” McEnroe told us.

“He is one of the fittest guys in the world and everything he puts into his body, he is watching carefully.

“Now we are saying that because of his choice, he can’t play at the US Open. I mean, come on. He has already been deported from Australia for the same reason and here we are again.”

Now Djokovic’s place in the ATP Tour Finals in Turin is far from guaranteed despite his Wimbledon triumph.

Both Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz are comfortably inside the top seven and have already assured themselves of places in Turin meaning that Djokovic could take the eighth place in the tournament even if he continues to tumble in the rankings.

Djokovic cannot afford too drastic a slide though as an exit from the top 20, however improbable that may seem would see the Serb lose out on a place in the Tour finals for just the second time since he made his event debut in 2007.

Whether Djokovic can hold onto a top 20 ranking depends heavily on both when he gets back onto the ATP Tour and the form of the players around him in the rankings.

Djokovic is set to return to action at the Laver Cup in London this week, where he will line-up alongside Roger Federer in his last competitive tournament.

Federer hopes to feature in the Laver Cup in some capacity according to his coach Severin Luthi, but he will leave it until the last-minute to decide if he is fit enough to play.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced his retirement last week as he confirmed that the Laver Cup at London’s O2 Arena would be last competitive tournament.