Novak Djokovic news: Why his reign as world number one could come to an end

Novak Djokovic gesturing

Novak Djokovic’s misery after he was blocked from playing in the Australian Open was compounded by Rafael Nadal’s remarkable victory in Sunday’s final against Daniil Medvedev and now he may be about to have salt rubbed into his wounds.

The Serbian was deported from Australia ahead of the tournament as he opted against being vaccinated against the coronavirus, which was a pre-tournament requirement for all competitors.

That exclusion means the 2000 ranking points Djokovic collected as he won last year’s Australian Open title will drop off his total later this month, handing Medvedev a chance to replace him as world No 1.

Djokovic’s points from last year’s Australian Open win will drop off his total on February 21st, the anniversary of his ninth title win in Melbourne last year.

Meanwhile, Medvedev will lose 1,200 points on the same day after his points from last year’s appearance in last February’s Australian Open final will fall off his record on the same day.

That will leave the top two players in the rankings almost level in the rankings race, with Djokovic only narrowly ahead as the duo prepare to play at the Indian Wells and Miami tournaments in March, where 1000 points will be available for the winner.

Djokovic could boost his total if he plays in the ATP 500 event in Dubai later this month, while Medvedev was due to play in the ATP event in Rotterdam next week, but he has now pulled out of that event.

The Russian could conceivably take over as world number on February 21st or next month, but tennis legend John McEnroe believes Djokovic should still be recognised as the best player in the world whatever the rankings suggest.

“Let me put it a little perspective, it’s a long year,” McEnroe said told Eurosport. “I think what really matters when you become No. 1 and it’s still a great honor whenever it happens, it’s who’s No. 1 at the end of the year.

“The final rankings before, when all four majors are played, when all the tournaments have been played, this is the very beginning of the year and it’s still an amazing accomplishment, but you’re not going to sit there and tell me that Djokovic who was No. 1, had three of the last four majors and was in the final of the US Open, isn’t the No. 1 player in the world – that’s ludicrous.

“And because of the unfortunate fact that he didn’t play here, he’s losing all the points he got that he won from the Australian Open. So that’s just why that happens.”

Djokovic has spent a record 358 weeks at the top of the ATP rankings, with Roger Federer his closest rival in that list after spending 310 weeks as the world’s leading player.