Djokovic defends the ATP No.1 from Sinner and Alcaraz: the scenarios

The clay season will be an important moment of the season for the ranking, as the Serbian and the Spaniard will have to defend many points

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Djokovic defends the ATP No.1 from Sinner and Alcaraz: the scenarios
© Michael Owens / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic will have to defend the ATP No.1 throne from the assaults of Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner. Especially those of the Italian tennis player, who, during the clay-season, will have many fewer points to defend than the Serbian and the Spaniard.

It will be a battle between the three of them to decide who, between the end of the Roland Garros and the start of the grass-swing, will be the new ATP No.1 in world men's tennis. The fight to conquer the world tennis throne foresees several scenarios for the next three months, which could change the fortunes of the tennis players involved.

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, who had separated themselves from the competition and established this dualism in the recent period, have been joined by Jannik Sinner, even if clay is not his favorite surface.

If his progress were to be the same on clay courts, he would be the favorite to occupy the ATP No.1 sport at the end of the Roland Garros. At the same time, however, Djokovic should confirm his decline in performances, while Alcaraz should be unable to confirm last season's results. In short, a series of complex scenarios.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic© Michael Owens / Stringer Getty Images Sport

The Italian, thanks to the titles he has got at the Australian Open, in Rotterdam and now at the ATP Master 1000 in Miami, has overtaken the Spaniard in the rankings and can now concretely have the ambition of reaching Nole at the top, even if, as mentioned, they will have to many astral conjunctions occur, for this to happen.

The gaps between the three are narrow and on the horizon there are three very intense months of clay season, which could shuffle the cards in play and the current positions.

The fight for the ATP No.1 throne during the clay-swing

Djokovic will have to defend 2315 in the next three months. The Serbian champion, considering the incredible results achieved in the Slams in 2023, will presumably always have to play in defense.

But we are now aware that the Serbian champion's best weapon is his infinite reserve of mental strength. Nole will have the task above all of reconfirming himself as champion at Roland Garros so as not to risk losing the throne of men's tennis. In preparation tournaments, in which he has very little to defend, Djokovic has never shone so much in recent years. The ATP No.1 is expected in Monte-Carlo, then there is some small doubt about the other competitions he will play.

Jannik Sinner defends only 585. The great chance seems to be in the hands of the Italian, who however, as mentioned, has never shown great tennis on clay. If Jannik wants to prove himself as the best, he will necessarily have to make significant improvements on this surface too. The Italian must have the ambition of being competitive even on clay courts, so as not to remain unfinished.

The 22-year-old's ability to achieve results on clay should not be questioned. The first Slam quarters came at the French Open, and last year's early defeats in prestigious tournaments should not be misleading.

The ATP number 2 will face this part of the year with better planning, in which he will have to try to start well in Monte-Carlo. He will skip Barcelona, where he reached the quarter-finals but later paid for all the effort, and will take advantage of a few more weeks of work to show up recharged in Madrid but, above all, at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia and at Roland Garros. Two excellent results in these last two tournaments could guarantee him the possibility of becoming the new ATP No.1

Carlos Alcaraz will instead have to defend 2265. The most continuous in 2023 on clay was Carlitos. And for this reason he is also the player most at risk of losing points or simply not earning compared to his rivals.

Carlitos will show up in Monte-Carlo, an appointment missed in 2023, to immediately try to regain number 2 in the ATP world ranking. Then the two big tournaments to defend: the ATP 500 in Barcelona and the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid, in which he has not lost since 2021 in both events.

If he manages to win the two tournaments that he defends, we will have to pay close attention to the young Spaniard, who would have considerable chances of closing the Roland Garros as the new ATP No.1. His program should include participation in the ATP Master 1000 in Rome, before chasing the Roland Garros title. last year in Paris he reached the semi-finals, retiring in the semi-final with Djokovic due to cramps.

Djokovic and Alcaraz are those who have the most to lose and risk during the clay season. Sinner has everything to gain. But the variable will always be Djokovic's psycho-physical form. If the Serbian arrives at the clay-swing with new psycho-physical vitality, the natural favorite to win the most important tournaments (and consequently the favorite to maintain the ATP No.1 spot), will be him.