ATP: Who is defending what this clay season?

Published by Leigh Rogers

CEREMONY: French Open 2016 champion Novak Djokovic and runner-up Andy Murray receive their trophies; Getty Images

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
1  Andy Murray  3,160  26%
2  Novak Djokovic  3,610  45%
3  Stan Wawrinka  1,250  21%
4  Roger Federer  270  5%
5  Rafael Nadal  2,130  45%
6  Milos Raonic  585  13%
7  Kei Nishikori  1,200  27%
8  Marin Cilic  160  4%
9  Dominic Thiem  1,400  41%
10  Jo-Wilfried Tsonga  540  16%
11  Gael Monfils 655 21%
12  Grigor Dimitrov  225  7%
13  Tomas Berdych  640  22%
14  David Goffin  685  25%
15  Nick Kyrgios 450 18%
16  Jack Sock  375  14%
17  Lucas Pouille  731  30%
18  Roberto Bautista Agut  405  18%
19  Pablo Carreno Busta  395  19%
20  Alexander Zverev  465  23%

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?

RELATED: Who is defending what on the WTA Tour?

Note: Rankings and point totals as of 16 April

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