Alcaraz can take advantage of Djokovic hiatus as Spaniard gears up for return

Carlos Alcaraz will be back in action next week at the ATP 500 in Beijing as the Asian swing continues. The Spaniard will be able to chase down Novak Djokovic in their ongoing fight for the No 1 ranking as the 36-year-old is taking a brief hiatus for the next month. Alcaraz and Djokovic are the only players that have held the top spot this year, and the Serb’s break could hurt him when it comes down to the race for year-end No 1.

Alcaraz hasn’t played a match since losing to Daniil Medvedev in the semi-final of the US Open where he was the defending champion. The 20-year-old withdrew from Spain’s Davis Cup group stage matches and said he needed to rest in the midst of the “demanding” tennis season.

But the Spaniard will be back at it next week as the tennis tour continues its return to China. According to Marca, the world No 2 will fly to Beijing on Sunday ahead of the China Open which begins on Thursday. He will then make his debut at the Shanghai Masters. 

It means that there are up to 1,500 ranking points on offer for Alcaraz across the two tournaments as he attempts to chase Djokovic down as the end of the season nears. The world No 1 is currently 3,260 points ahead of his young rival.

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But Djokovic is defending 2,850 points between now and the end of 2023 based on his results from last year – 250 for winning Tel Aviv, 500 for winning Astana, 600 for making the Paris Masters final and 1,500 for winning the ATP Finals. In comparison, Alcaraz has just 360 points to defend before the end of the year.

With the Serb not playing until Paris, 750 points are guaranteed to fall off of his ranking before he makes his return to competition after announcing that he was skipping the Asian swing. Alcaraz was unable to play the ATP Finals last year after picking up an abdomen injury, meaning that the season-ending finals will be another tournament with up to 1,500 points on offer for the youngster.

And the two-time Major champion has made it no secret that his eye is firmly on the world No 1 ranking after ending last season as the top-ranked man in tennis. “Well, right now it’s a goal for me honestly. I said before that we are having a really good battle for the No 1, Novak and I,” Alcaraz said ahead of the US Open.

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While Alcaraz went into the US Open as the world No 1, it was already known that Djokovic would return to the top on the first day after the tournament as he had no points to defend while the Spaniard was the reigning champion. And it was something that was already playing on the 20-year-old’s mind at the time.

He added: “I knew that he was going to recover the No. 1 after US Open. When the tournament is over, I will try to recover as soon as possible. That’s my goal. I am working for that. The season has a lot of tournaments until the year is over. I’ll try to recover it before the tournament end, before the year end.”

Alcaraz has a chance at doing just that before the season draws to a close. And he can start closing down the gap with Djokovic in Asia while the 36-year-old takes a break from tennis before returning for the Paris Masters, ATP Finals and Davis Cup.

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