When Carlos Alcaraz plays the first point of his match on Saturday against Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, the 20-year-old Spaniard will clinch his return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Novak Djokovic arrived in Rome with a five-point lead over Alcaraz. However, Djokovic is the defending champion and will drop 1,000 points on 22 May. Alcaraz is not defending any points, and he will earn 10 by beginning his opening match in the Italian capital. That has already put him atop the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.
Alcaraz will therefore begin his 23rd week at World No. 1 on 22 May. The Spaniard has a big opportunity to leave Rome with a sizable lead. If the 20-year-old wins the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, he will depart Italy with at least a 1,395-point advantage over Djokovic.
Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings (entering Rome)
1) Carlos Alcaraz
2) Novak Djokovic
3) Daniil Medvedev
4) Casper Ruud
5) Stefanos Tsitsipas
Djokovic can keep the battle close if he wins his seventh Rome title. The Serbian can finish the tournament with 6,775 points, which would keep him within 595 points of Alcaraz if the Spaniard reaches the final.
The 35-year-old’s grip on World No. 2 is not secure, though. Daniil Medvedev can climb to 6,330 points by winning the title on his least-favourite surface. That would force Djokovic to reach the final to remain World No. 2.
That will be a crucial battle for Roland Garros seeding. Alcaraz is in position to take the first seed in Paris, but the seeds below him are up for grabs.
Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas also have an opportunity to potentially move into the world’s top three by winning the title in Rome, depending on Medvedev’s performance. Neither man can pass Djokovic.