Novak Djokovic, who overcame his fiercest rival, Rafael Nadal in the final of the ATP Cup a week ago, could have the opportunity of surpassing the Spaniard at the Australian Open to claim back the World No. 1 spot. Currently, Nadal leads the Serbian by 515 points.
In this article, we analyze what Djokovic would need to do to bypass the Spaniard and occupy again the ATP throne. While “Rafa” has 10,235 points, and “Nole” counts only 9,720, World No. 3 Roger Federer (with 6,590) is not in contention to return as No.
1 this month but could pass Djokovic if the latter suffers an early loss and the former makes a good run.
To overthrow Nadal, Djokovic doesn’t depend only on his performance. However, since the 16-Grand Slam champion is defending his 2019 title in Melbourne, he must win the tournament in order to have a chance.
In addition, to get the crown, the Belgrade native should also hope that Nadal doesn’t reach the semi-final, as making it to the final four would still secure the top ranking to the 19-Grand Slam champion. Let’s recapitulate: to pass Nadal in the ATP Singles Ranking, Djokovic must win the Australian Open.
To prevent losing his elite position, even if the Serbian wins the Major, Nadal needs to reach the semi-final. Assuming that Djokovic doesn’t win the tournament, even a first-round loss would be enough for Nadal to conserve his place.
Rafael Nadal opens his title quest against the Bolivian Hugo Dellien, and in case of victory, he would face the winner of Federico Delbonis and Joao Sousa (his head-to-head count is 3-0 against both opponents) in the second round.
His possible third-round match would probably be against his compatriot Pablo Carreno Busta, whom he beat in their four previous meetings. In the round of 16, Nadal could face Nick Kyrgios or Karen Khachanov - two dangerous players if they feel good that day.
In the quarter-final, four players could have high chances to face Nadal: Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Taylor Fritz. In the last square, the Spaniard is projected to play against Daniil Medvedev, but the latter has a difficult draw with Alexander Zverev, Stan Wawrinka, David Goffin, John Isner, Andrey Rublev, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga all standing in his side.
A hypothetical final would probably oppose him either to Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, or Stefanos Tsitsipas. On the other hand, Novak Djokovic faces a tricky first-round as he meets Jan-Lennard Struff. The second match should be relatively easier for the Serbian with either Tatsuma Ito or Prajnesh Gunneswaran, in his sights.
In the third match, he could face in-form Daniel Evans or Yoshihito Nishioka. Diego Schwartzman or Dusan Lajovic could meet him in the fourth round, while Roberto Bautista Agut or Stefanos Tsitsipas could do the same in the quarter-final.
Finally, in the semi-final, Djokovic could meet his long-time rival, Roger Federer if the latter passes Matteo Berrettini, Denis Shapovalov, and Hubert Hurkacz challenges. The final could be a remake of the 2019’s one as he could play against Rafael Nadal, but Daniil Medvedev could also battle for the championship.