When could Jannik Sinner replace Novak Djokovic as the new world No 1?

Kevin Palmer
Jannik Sinner getting the better of Novak Djokovic
Jannik Sinner getting the better of Novak Djokovic

Jannik Sinner appears to be on the march towards the world No 1 spot in the ATP Rankings and he could become the first Italian to claim that illustrious position sooner than anyone expected.

The irresistible Sinner won his third title of the season as he became the Miami Open champion on Sunday as he beat Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 6-1 in a one-sided final.

His success sees the 22-year-old become the new world No 1 and avenge defeat in the final in Miami in 2021 and 2023 and rise to No 2 in the updated world rankings.

Only Carlos Alcaraz had managed to find a way to beat Sinner this year, with his scintillating Indian Wells semi-final win the only blip in a flawless season.

Sinner’s sparkling form saw him collect titles at the Australian Open and the Rotterdam Open before he claimed the Miami Open title and now his hopes of ousting Djokovic as world No 1 now very realistic.

The 22-year-old is a little over 1,000 ranking points behind Djokovic in the latest ATP Rankings and he will be competing in several events over the next few weeks that could allow him to close that gap and move past the Serbian great.

Sinner’s next event is expected to be the Monte-Carlo Masters and he has 360 ranking points to defend from 2023 that will drop off his tally when that event gets underway next Monday.

If Sinner lifts the title in Monte-Carlo, he will add 1,000 points to his total and that will move him closer to Djokovic.

Djokovic was beaten by Lorenzo Musetti in last-16 of the Monte-Carlo event last year, so he only has 90 points coming off his record next Monday and has a chance to add to his tally when he plays in a tournament staged in a location where he has a home.

Sinner’s big chances to overtake Djokovic could come at the Madrid Masters and then in front of his home fans at the ATP 1000 event in Rome in May.

READ MORE: Novak Djokovic’s latest statement fuels rumours he may be thinking about retirement

If he follows his plan from last year, Djokovic will not play in Madrid, but he is set to play in Rome and could meet Sinner in front of a passionate set of Italian fans who will be cheering on their local hero.

With 1,000 ranking points up for grabs in Madrid and Rome, Sinner could overtake Djokovic as world No 1 before he gets to play in front of his home fans in the Italian capital.

Alternatively, he could be presented with the delicious prospect of becoming the first Italian man to become world No 1 by winning the Masters event in front of his fanatical home fans at the Foro Italico in Rome.

Djokovic then has 2,000 ranking points to defend from his French Open win last year and Sinner has just 45 points to defend from the same tournament after his early exit at Roland-Garros last year.

So if Sinner continues to serve up the tennis he has shown in the opening weeks of 2024, is a strong favourite to become world No 1 before the grass court season gets underway in June.

Yet Sinner admits he is heading into the clay court swing with some reservations, as he has not enjoyed great success on a surface he grew up playing on.

“Now the clay season is coming, so usually I struggle there. So let’s see what I can do this year,” said Sinner.

“You don’t have so much time to adapt, because Monaco, I guess we start to practice Thursday the first time. So not even one week to get used to the clay.

“There are always some strange results usually in Monaco, so let’s see what’s coming this year.

“For sure, the main goal is Roland Garros, yes, but trying to work slowly into this tournament and trying to play it in the best possible way.

“Before I have Rome and this is for me, especially is a really, really important tournament. You know, playing with the home crowd, it’s always amazing.

“Look, I have the feeling that I have learned many things from last year what I can do better. Physically I’m in a different shape than I was last year and the clay is a lot more physical. We’ll see how it goes.”

The rise and rise of Sinner shows no sign of slowing down, but he now needs to prove his rebranded game can thrive on a surface that has not been kind to him so far in his career.