If Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic weren’t already feeling the pressure after their indifferent starts to the 2017 season, they should be now.
The ATP World Tour’s clay season has officially started and most of the world’s best are in Monte Carlo this week for the first major stop. Among them are the world’s top two players, who face the daunting prospect of defending a lot of ranking points over the next two months.
Reigning French Open champion Novak Djokovic has 3,610 points to defend – which equates to almost half of his current total. If he fails to do so, the world No.2 faces the prospect of slipping further down the rankings.
World No.1 Andy Murray looks comfortable in the top spot for now, even though he has 3,160 points to defend on clay. But with even more points to defend in the second half of the season, the Brit can’t afford his lacklustre current form to continue.
Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem both thrive on their favoured clay surface, so will be excited to enter this stage of the season. Yet both face the added pressure of also defending a large proportions of their rankings.
Who else has a lot to defend? We’ve tallied the 2016 clay swing points of the world’s top 20 players to find out:
|Rank||Player||Points to defend||% of point total|
|18||Roberto Bautista Agut||405||18%|
|19||Pablo Carreno Busta||395||19%|
Keep an eye on: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The Frenchman has won two titles so far in 2017 to return to the top 10. He only contested three clay events in 2016 as he battled a knee injury, which means he is a good chance to gain even more points this year.
Potential big mover: Grigor Dimitrov. One of the biggest improvers so far this season, the Bulgarian has only 225 points to defend on clay over the next two months. A top 10 return looks on the cards.
In trouble: After a breakthrough clay swing in 2016, Dominic Thiem’s form has plateaued. Can a return to the dirt propel his game to even greater heights? Or is the 23-year-old Austrian about to fall out of the world’s top 10?
Note: Rankings and point totals as of 16 April
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