Novak Djokovic is sitting comfortably atop the ATP rankings – but is he at risk of losing the No.1 ranking as the tour turns to clay?
With a lead of 2345 ranking points over his closest rival, it looks unlikely.
As an 11-time Roland Garros champion, Rafael Nadal is always a contender on clay. However, the world No.2 is currently not a threat to Djokovic’s stranglehold on the No.1 ranking.
After a near-perfect clay-court swing in 2018, Nadal has limited chances to earn more points. The reigning Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Rome and French Open champion has 4680 ranking points to defend – more than half of his current total.
Djokovic, on the other hand, only has 855 points to defend. This equates to seven per cent of his current ranking total – increasingly the likelihood he could actually extend his lead at No.1.
World No.3 Alexander Zverev’s hopes of an imminent No.1 rise are not promising either. The German, who is currently 5030 points behind Djokovic, is also under significant pressure with a large volume of ranking points to defend in coming weeks. He won Madrid last year, was a Rome finalist and reached the French Open quarterfinals.
World No.4 Roger Federer is in a different situation, with no ranking points to defend on clay. Yet the newly-crowned Miami champion, who is including clay events in his schedule for the first time in three years, is more than 5000 points behind Djokovic and unlikely to play enough tournaments to reduce this difference enough to challenge for the top spot on clay.
Ranking points the world’s best players are defending in clay-court tournaments across the next nine weeks, culminating with the French Open:
|Rank||Player||Points defending||% of points total|
|9||Juan Martin del Potro||900||27%|
|23||Roberto Bautista Agut||360||21%|
|25||Alex de Minaur||55||3%|
|28||Pablo Carreno Busta||550||42%|
One to watch: Dominic Thiem’s game is most dangerous on clay – but last year’s Roland Garros runner-up has the added pressure of defending almost half of his ranking points in coming weeks.
Room to improve: After missing part of the 2018 clay season with injury, watch for in-form Gael Monfils to continue his ranking rise. The Frenchman has already improved his ranking from No.33 to No.19 in the past two months.
Under pressure: After his Roland Garros semifinal run, Italian Marco Cecchinato has 1110 ranking points to defend on his favourite surface. This equates to 54 per cent of his current ranking total, the highest of any top 30 player.
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