Alcaraz To Have A Shot At Djokovic's World No. 1 Spot Already At Australian Open

Alcaraz To Have A Shot At Djokovic's World No. 1 Spot Already At Australian Open

by Nurein Ahmed

Carlos Alcaraz's hopes of overtaking Novak Djokovic for the year-end ranking suffered a terminal blow at the Paris Masters.

The Spaniard watched as Djokovic boisterously lifted the trophy following his opening round-robin win that sealed this year's race and which Djokovic won for the eighth time in his career - a men's record.

Alcaraz wasn't too downhearted and congratulated the Serbian for that milestone. He ran Djokovic very close and until the final week of the season which is a commendable job.

We can't forget that the 20-year-old missed one of the four Grand Slams this season due to injury, which gave Djokovic an early headstart of 2000 points when he ended up winning the Australian Open in January for a record-extending 10th time.

However, the gap between Djokovic and Alcaraz grew to 2,390 points thanks to the 36-year-old's seventh ATP Finals win, which is another record. Djokovic has already secured top-seed status at next year's Australian Open where he will attempt to reign in Melbourne for the 11th time.

Overall, Djokovic is defending 2,250 points during the Australian summer. Although it is impossible for him to relinquish the top spot before the first major of 2024, he could realistically lose the World No. 1 ranking to Alcaraz by the end of the tournament.

Alcaraz doesn't defend any points in Australia at the turn of the year. So he stands to gain the full 2000 points. Djokovic's schedule at the start of next season is known, and he will play at the United Cup for the first time.

The mixed-gender team competition offers a maximum of 500 ranking points per player. Although Djokovic will seamlessly rack up some priceless wins for his country, Serbia is not fancied to make the deep end of the tournament because of squad depth.

Assuming Djokovic doesn't earn the full 500 points on offer, then he could begin the Australian Open with less than 9,500 points (will drop 2000 points for the winning 2023 Australian Open and 250 points for winning Adelaide).

Because he'll drop his points from Adelaide since he is playing in the United Cup, Djokovic's live points by the time the Australian Open kicks off could be somewhere in the range of 8,995-9,495.

Alcaraz starts the season on 8,855 points and could finish with 10,855 points. His points tally will be unaffected in Australia, so he can only accumulate. He is unlikely to play any warm-up events according to reports, so he'll head straight to Melbourne and fight for 2000 points.

Because Djokovic and Alcaraz are slated to be the top two seeds, they'll only be able to meet in the final. The Spaniard will overtake Djokovic if he wins the Australian Open, anything less than that opens up a whirlwind of possibilities.

A runner-up finish would be sufficient for the 20-year-old provided Djokovic loses before the semifinal. It will be interesting to see the strategies Alcaraz will put in place to challenge Djokovic at the Australian Open, but he's got a chance to deliver an early marker.


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