Following Casper Ruud’s loss on Thursday at the Australian Open, the battle for World No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings is down to three men: Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas and current World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, who is not competing Down Under due to injury. With his defeat to Jenson Brooksby, Ruud cannot climb higher than World No. 2.
The scenarios for the rest of the tournament are simple. If Djokovic or Tsitsipas win the title, they will depart Melbourne as World No. 1. If neither man lifts the trophy, Alcaraz will retain top spot on 30 January.
Djokovic has plenty of experience triumphing Down Under. The Serbian is a nine-time Australian Open champion and owns an 83-8 record at the tournament. The 35-year-old has not lost at the season’s first major since the fourth round in 2018 against Hyeon Chung.
Djokovic has held World No. 1 for a record 373 weeks, with a record seven year-end No. 1 finishes. He most recently held top spot last June.
The fourth seed will play his second-round match inside Rod Laver Arena on Thursday evening against French qualifier Enzo Couacaud. His potential third-round opponents are 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov and Serbian Laslo Djere.
Tsitsipas has enjoyed success of his own at Melbourne Park. The Greek has advanced to the semi-finals in each of the event’s past two editions. However, the 24-year-old would have to break new ground to claim World No. 1. Tsitsipas, the 2021 Roland Garros finalist, has never won a Grand Slam title. He will play Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor on Friday in the third round.