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Djokovic, Sinner to battle for No.1 ranking at Roland Garros

  • Leigh Rogers

A fascinating new storyline in the growing rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner is set to unfold in coming weeks.

Djokovic is the most decorated world No.1 player in ATP Tour history, accumulating an unparalleled 425 weeks atop the singles rankings. This is 115 weeks, which is equivalent to over two years, more than any of his peers.

In April, he overtook esteemed rival Roger Federer’s record as the oldest man to hold the coveted position as well.

However, the 36-year-old’s stranglehold on the coveted No.1 ranking will be under threat at Roland Garros this year.

A new world No.1?

Reigning Australian Open champion Sinner is in a prime position to create history of his own in Paris.

The 22-year-old could potentially become the first Italian player – man or woman – to hold the world No.1 ranking in singles by tournament’s end. 

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Sinner, who was three years old when Djokovic made his Roland Garros main-draw debut in 2005, could accomplish this feat without even needing to take to the court. 

This may be welcomed news for the world No.2, considering his participation at the tournament is currently in doubt due to a hip injury. 

Djokovic’s challenge

When Djokovic’s 2000 ranking points earned from winning the Roland Garros 2023 title expire, his current 1090-point lead over Sinner evaporates too.

Sinner, on the other hand, only has a small number of ranking points to defend following his second-round exit last year.

This will see Djokovic drop down to world No.2 in the live rankings when Roland Garros begins, with Sinner edging ahead by 865 points.

That means all the pressure is on Djokovic in Paris, with the reigning champion needing to reach at least the final to have any chance of retaining his world No.1 ranking.

A loss before the final means he will surrender the top position to Sinner, who is more than 14 years his junior. 

Sinner’s chance to shine

To guarantee his progression to the top of the rankings, Sinner must also make the final at Roland Garros.

This would seal his ascension to world No.1, even if Djokovic successfully manages to defend his title and triumph for a fourth time at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.

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If Sinner does not make the final, his post-tournament ranking position will depend on Djokovic’s performance.

The breakdown of the two rival’s potential point totals, based on appearances in each round in Paris, is as follows:


Current total

RG 1R 

RG 2R 

RG 3R 

RG 4R 

























A rare feat

Since the introduction of ATP Tour singles rankings in 1973, the No.1 ranking has only changed hands four times at the conclusion of Roland Garros.

John McEnroe (replacing Jimmy Connors in 1983), Ivan Lendl (overtaking McEnroe in 1984) and Rafael Nadal (replacing Roger Federer in 2010) were the first men to achieve this rare feat.

Djokovic joined them last season, after he usurped Carlos Alcaraz with his title-winning run in Paris. 

Can Sinner join this esteemed list too? We’ll soon find out.