20-year-old Alcaraz has already spent a total of 36 weeks at the top of the rankings. While this is brief in comparison to Djokovic's record 392 weeks, it is impressive for someone still in the early stages of their career. Moreover, the Spaniard appeared to be solidifying his position at Wimbledon this year when he emerged victorious from a five-set battle with seven-time champion Djokovic.
However, the Big Three member showed everyone that he was not ready to hand over his dominance yet. Alcaraz was the defending champion heading into the 2023 US Open, meaning that he could only maintain points, whereas Djokovic was unable to compete in 2022 due to his unvaccinated status barring him from entering the country.
“It comes from her grandmother. Her grandmother was the first Black child to go to an all-white school in Delray”: Billie Jean King shared Coco Gauff's family story.
Therefore, he had everything to gain this year. This combined with his victory over Alcaraz in the final of the Cincinnati Open in August meant that all Djokovic needed to do in order to re-claim No. 1 was win his first match at the New York major against Alexandre Muller, which he did with ease.
Alcaraz's possible path back to No. 1
Djokovic's historic victory at the US Open, which saw him achieve his record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, means that he is guaranteed the top spot for at least the next couple of months. However, there is still a good opportunity for Alcaraz to overtake him again after this and even end up as year-end No. 1.
The two-time major champion is currently preparing to play at the ATP 500 China Open next week. If he gets a deep run here, it could be crucial to changing his position in the rankings. This will be helped by the fact that Alcaraz only has 360 points left to defend over the rest of 2023.
Swiatek: I don't like playing with Ostapenko. There are simply some players who are uncomfortable to play with
Meanwhile, Djokovic has 3,000 points to defend after he pulled off an impressive finale to last year's season.
The current gap between the players is 3,260 points. Djokovic is already set to lose 500 points which he received at the 2022 Astana Open and 600 points from finishing as runner-up at the Paris Masters. He has also withdrawn from the Shanghai Masters, meaning Alcaraz could gain a huge advantage if he wins the 1,000 points on offer at this event.
Alcaraz has already stated his goal to return to No. 1 as soon as possible, while Djokovic has admitted that he is now more focussed on winning Grand Slams than on the rankings.