Novak Djokovic’s ATP crown under major threat ahead of Wimbledon as Alcaraz gears up for Queen’s Club

Young Spanish superstar Carlos Alcaraz had a phenomenal run at the US Open last year, claiming the title and world number 1 on the ATP tour in one fell swoop. In a showdown against Casper Ruud to decide both the title and top spot in the rankings, Alcaraz pulled through, and as a teenager became the youngest ever men’s world number one.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic (L) comforts Spain's Carlos Alcaraz Garfia after his victory(AFP)
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic (L) comforts Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz Garfia after his victory(AFP)

As a result, Alcaraz entered the French Open as number one, but would lose out on the top spot in the rankings after Novak Djokovic beat him in the semifinals, and Ruud in the finals. Alcaraz would drop down to number 2 despite a strong recovery from injury earlier this year — but ahead of Wimbledon, he will have another bite at the cherry to try and enter the prestigious tournament as number one and top seed.

Alcaraz is already in London to participate in the Queen’s Club ATP 500 event, which he enters as the top seed. The young Spaniard will be using the grass court tournament as preparation for Wimbledon above all else, but as an additional boost, has the opportunity to retake the top spot in the rankings only a few weeks after losing out on it.

Alcaraz currently stands as world number 2 at 7175 points, with Djokovic ahead of him on 7595 points. A win at Queen’s would earn Alcaraz 500 points, allowing him to overtake the Serb and enter Wimbledon as top seed, since Djokovic has already confirmed he won’t be participating in any lead-up tournaments before the Championships. The seedings might have a big influence on the kind of draws the two players receive, and will therefore be in the back of Alcaraz’s mind as he competes in London.

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The significance of seedings was clear to see even at Roland Garros. Daniil Medvedev’s success in the weeks leading up to the Paris tournament saw him overtake Djokovic into the second spot in the rankings, meaning the Serb was placed in the same half as Alcaraz, in what otherwise would have been the encounter slated for the finals.

Not one to rely on hypotheticals, Djokovic’s win saw him leapfrog both the Russian and the Spaniard, but will be powerless to stop Alcaraz from ascending to number one if he goes on a successful run in London. Alcaraz has spoken to the press about his wish to practice his movement on the grass, having grown up on clay courts and being accustomed to the ability to slide on the red soil.

“The most difficult part is to move well on grass. You need to be more careful than other surfaces, so for me to move on grass is the most difficult,” said the young rising star. However, he added on, “The most comfortable is going to the net and playing aggressively all the time. For me it is similar to other surfaces with my style. Playing that style is comfortable and I like it.”

Alcaraz was beaten by fellow rising star Jannik Sinner in a fascinating four-set battle in the fourth round of last year’s Wimbledon, preventing him from an encounter against Djokovic on the grass in the following round. Djokovic would go on to win his seventh Wimbledon title, but Alcaraz will be hungry to earn another shot at one of the greatest players of all time when the tournament begins on July 3.

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