Novak Djokovic defends ATP throne from Carlos Alcaraz

Novak Djokovic will start his 410th week as world no. 1 next week

by Jovica Ilic
Novak Djokovic defends ATP throne from Carlos Alcaraz
© Daniel Pockett / Stringer Getty Images Sport

Novak Djokovic will embrace his 410th week as world no. 1 next week, diligently defending the ATP throne from his closest rival, Carlos Alcaraz. Novak dropped 2000 ATP points on the Live ranking list at the beginning of the Australian Open, allowing Carlos to move closer after not playing in Melbourne a year ago due to an injury.

Djokovic reached his 11th Australian Open semi-final after beating Taylor Fritz, maintaining the pressure on Alcaraz. The Spaniard had to go one round further than the Serb to start another reign as world no. 1. However, that will not happen following his Australian Open quarter-final loss to Alexander Zverev in four sets.

Alcaraz's hold on the top-2 ranking spot is further imperiled, with Daniil Medvedev poised to ascend and become Djokovic's closest rival if he lifts the trophy on Sunday. Novak maintains a substantial 600 ATP points advantage over Carlos, looking to extend the gap to 1100 with the semi-final win over Jannik Sinner.

Djokovic© Daniel Pockett / Stringer Getty Images Sport

A successful defense of his Australian Open crown would see Djokovic establishing a commanding 1800-point lead over Alcaraz. It would be a considerable margin, particularly given Novak's light points to defend in the next three months.

Unlike him, Carlos will have to work hard to repeat what he did in 2023 and stay in touch with a 24-time Major champion ahead of Roland Garros. Djokovic started his 19th Australian Open campaign bothered with a minor virus, playing far from his best in the opening two rounds.

The veteran took down the young Croat Dino Prizmic after over four hours in the first encounter and toppled Alexei Popyrin in the second, securing a place in the last 32. Novak felt better as the event progressed, serving well against Tomas Martin Etcheverry and Adriano Mannarino and beating both rivals in straight sets.

Thus, Djokovic advanced into the quarter-final and battled against Taylor Fritz.

Novak Djokovic will remain world no. 1 after the Australian Open.

They pushed each other to the limits at Rod Laver Arena during the day session in the opening two sets, splitting them after two hours and 23 minutes.

Novak earned 15 break points, spraying them and keeping his rival in contention. The Serb could have made a wrong start, facing two set points on serve at 5-6 in the opener and defending them before clinching a tie break. Taylor scored an early break in the second set and denied seven break points, wrapping up the set 6-4 and improving his chances.

However, Novak regained his energy and composure by the start of the third set, securing an early break and stealing the rival's serve three more times in the rest of the duel to pass a challenging obstacle and set a blockbuster clash with Jannik Sinner.

Carlos Alcaraz returned to Melbourne after two years and played at a high level en route to the quarter-final.

Novak Djokovic, Australian Open 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Spaniard overpowered Lorenzo Sonego in the second round and defeated Junchang Shang and Miomir Kecmanovic to book a place in the last eight.

Carlos met Alexander Zverev, seeking a semi-final spot and more chances to pass Novak and regain the ATP throne. However, the Spaniard struggled a lot, trailing 6-1, 6-3, 5-2 after a terrible performance against a rock-solid rival.

Zverev served for the victory in game eight and experienced the first break, keeping his rival alive and allowing him to reach a tie break. Feeling much better than 25 minutes ago, Alcaraz fired from all cylinders and clinched the breaker 7-2, reducing the deficit and improving his chances.

They traded early breaks in the fourth set and served well for 4-4. Alexander clinched a crucial break in game nine, moving in front and sealing the deal with a fine hold in game ten, moving into his second Australian Open semi-final and sending Carlos packing.

Novak Djokovic Carlos Alcaraz