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Djokovic, Alcaraz battling for world No. 1 and French Open top seed: How things stand as clay season begins

Despite both being sidelined from big tournaments–Grand Slams and Masters 1000s–for various reasons over the past year, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz are dominating the ATP rankings at the moment. Dating back to last fall, they have waged a back-and-forth battle for the No. 1 ranking.

Alcaraz secured the top spot for the first time in his young career when he captured the 2022 U.S. Open title. The Spaniard kept it and finished the 2022 campaign on top despite missing the Nitto ATP Finals–which Djokovic won.

Djokovic regained the top spot by triumphing at the Australian Open, which Alcaraz missed due to a knee problem. During the recent Sunshine Double, though, roles were reversed and it was the Serb absent while Alcaraz played. The 19-year-old prevailed at the Indian Wells Masters to overtake Djokovic at No. 1. Still, Alcaraz had to defend his 2022 Miami title in order to maintain it and that did not turn out to be the case (Jannik Sinner beat him in the semis).

As such, it is Djokovic who is back in the No. 1 position going into the clay-court swing.

With Alcaraz not playing in the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, Djokovic has clinched staying No. 1 at least until the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The 35-year-old lost right away in Monte-Carlo last year, got upset in the Belgrade semis, and lost to Alcaraz in the Madrid SFs. That’s only 520 points in those three events. As for Alcaraz, he has 500 points to defend in Barcelona and 1,000 in Madrid from winning those titles in 2022.

Djokovic prevailed at the Rome Masters last spring, so only after that event does Alcaraz have a mathematical chance of returning to No. 1.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.