World No. 1 Rafael Nadal has been a dominant force on the ATP World Tour in 2013, yet he may be on the verge of surrendering the top spot to rival Novak Djokovic should he falter during the upcoming clay court portion of the season.
The Spaniard worked his way back up the rankings in an inspirational 2013, after he had suffered a knee injury that forced him onto the sidelines for the majority of the 2012 season. Key victories at the French Open and the U.S Open, as well as five Masters 1000 titles helped him usurp the No. 1 ranking from Djokovic in October, and he has held it ever since.
While that may be the case, Djokovic could potentially surpass his Spanish nemesis should he perform well in next week’s Monte Carlo Rolex Masters and the Mutua Madrid Open. Djokovic, the defending champion in Monte Carlo, defeated Nadal last year in a historic victory for his first title at that particular Masters.
Nadal holds 13,730 points and will need to defend 2050 points against Djokovic, who currently holds 11,680 points, to secure his ranking. This means he will need to defend at least two of the titles in either Barcelona, Madrid, and Rome.
Nadal and Djokovic have clashed 40 times on the professional tour – easily surpassing the previous Open Era record held by John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl (36). It is the only rivalry that can boast finals in all four Grand Slam finals, as well as a record 20 Masters 1000 finals. In Grand Slams, Nadal leads 8–3, yet Djokovic holds a 11-9 record overall in finals. The Serb also leads the hard court series 14-7 (11-5 on outdoor courts). He has also won their last three consecutive meetings, including a straight sets victory in Miami last month.
No matter the results over the next few weeks, the battle for the No. 1 ranking will certainly be an entertaining one.