Monday, April 14, 2014

Rafole: Battle for World No. 1

With the clay court season beginning this week, Novak Djokovic's race to catch Rafael Nadal in the ranking points in the battle for world No. 1 is heating up. The Serb has won each of the last four masters series events and has a small opportunity to be the No. 1 seed at Roland Garros in 2014.

In the all-time rankings, Nadal has the sixth most weeks spent as the top ranked player in the world at 130 and counting. Meanwhile, Djokovic sits in a tie for eighth with Andre Agassi at 101 weeks.

Last October, Djokovic was one week away from tying his rival on the all-time list. However, Tomas Berdych retired in the first set against Nadal in the Beijing semifinals to give Nadal the No. 1 ranking, taking it from Djokovic. Now in the next eight weeks, the world No. 2 has a chance to regain the top ranking and make up the lost ground.

During the clay season, Nadal has 5,100 points to defend, while Djokovic only has to defend 2,390. Meanwhile, Nadal's lead in the rankings is only 2050, meaning that Nadal has to be at least 661 points better than Djokovic during the clay swing. However, Nadal will play in Barcelona, which Djokovic usually skips, resulting in essentially 500 free points for Nadal if he wins.

If Nadal does hold on to the No. 1 ranking after Roland Garros, there is still a chance Djokovic will be the top seed at Wimbledon, since the tournament organizers adjust the seedings based on previous grass court results. However, if Djokovic fails to regain the No. 1 rankings, his next real chance won't come until the summer US Open Series goes to Canada. Also, even if Djokovic does take the No. 1 ranking at Roland Garros, Nadal will have a chance to take it right back at Wimbledon with only 10 points to defend at SW19.

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