Under the traditional points system, Djokovic may not even qualify for the ATP Finals in Turin, Italy, this 12 months. Heading into Paris, he was in tenth place within the points race. But under the ATP’s Grand Slam champion rule, any player who wins a significant title and is ranked throughout the top 20 is guaranteed a spot within the year-end championship. (The WTA Tour has no such rule, which is why Djokovic’s fellow Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina, didn’t qualify for the WTA Finals in Fort Price.)
“A lot of the upheaval this 12 months is due to Djokovic,” Patrick McEnroe, a former United States Davis Cup captain and now an ESPN commentator said. “He missed two majors and didn’t get points for the one he won. It really affected the remainder of the sphere. You possibly can make the case that if Djokovic runs the table, wins Paris and the ATP Finals, that he deserves to be No. 1.”
The player probably to finish 2022 at No. 1 is Alcaraz. Thus far he has won five tournaments this 12 months, including ATP Masters 1000s in Miami and Madrid. In Madrid, he beat Nadal, Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in succession. On the U.S. Open, he knocked off Frances Tiafoe within the semifinals after which Casper Ruud for the championship. He then, at 19, became the youngest No. 1 in ATP rankings history.
The problem for Alcaraz is his lack of indoor experience. Entering the Paris Masters, Alcaraz had played just two tournaments, in Astana and Basel, Switzerland, and two Davis Cup matches indoors this season. Last 12 months he lost within the third round in Paris, but went on to win the Next Gen ATP Finals.
“The way in which this game is speculated to work is that the brand new guys improve and begin beating the old guys,” said Jimmy Arias, once ranked No. 5 and now the director of tennis on the IMG Academy in Florida. “Alcaraz has shown that he’s the guy to switch them because he’s beaten Nadal and Djokovic this 12 months. I don’t want those older guys to simply fade away. The brand new guys won’t get respect without beating them. It’s the natural order of things.”
In the previous couple of weeks of the season, there are five players who could potentially end the 12 months No. 1 — Alcaraz, Nadal, Ruud, Medvedev and Tsitsipas. Ruud reached two major finals this 12 months, ending second to Nadal on the French Open and to Alcaraz on the U.S. Open. Ruud has also won three lower-level titles and was runner-up to Alcaraz on the Masters 1000 in Miami.
Medvedev, who beat Djokovic in the ultimate of the U.S. Open last 12 months, was runner-up to Nadal on the Australian Open in January. Shortly after, Medvedev, ascended to world No. 1.