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Medvedev closer to securing top spot through the US Open, but the chase for the year-end No 1 ranking is open
There’s four months left to go for the end of the 2022 season but there are some clear patterns that emerge out of the points breakdown on the ATP rankings
The Russian, never one to shy away from speaking his mind, was forthright when asked about the No 1 ranking scenario, saying that it was very probable that Rafael Nadal, the winner of two (Australian Open and Roland-Garros) of the three majors offering points this year, will end the season in the top spot.
“For sure I’m watching [the race for No. 1] a little bit,” Medvedev said, as quoted by the ATP Tour website. “Depends also the moment because I know at the end of the year, unless I try to win every tournament that is left, it’s probably going to be Rafa Nadal for (the year-end No. 1).”
You can understand the point. Medvedev has 7,875 points and 3,360 to defend in the five next weeks. If Medvedev advances to the final in Montreal this week, he will be assured of the No 1 ranking through at least the US Open. If he loses before the final, he will open the door for Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz to overtake him in Cincinnati.
Nadal has 5,620 points and does not have any points to defend for the rest of the season since he did not play any tournament after the first week of August in 2021. Alcaraz has 5,035 points this week, and has 485 points to defend over the next five weeks.
However, Medvedev is determined to hold on to the top spot for as long as he can as his favourite and most profitable stretch of the season kicks off. The 26-year-old went on to say, “But at the same time, I feel I can keep it for quite a long time if I play good here in the (North American hard-court swing).”
The 52-week rolling methodology used by the tours to calculate the ATP rankings, coupled with some extremely unusual circumstances such as the deportation of Novak Djokovic form Melbourne and Wimbledon’s ban on Russian players — which led to the tournament being stripped off its ranking points, had also thrown up the possibility that Alexander Zverev could become world No 1 in mid-August, even though he has failed to reach a Grand Slam final in the past 12 months.
Keeping the short-term calculations aside, let’s take a look at how the top six players in this week’s ATP rankings stack up as the American summer swing kicks off in all earnest this week.
Daniil Medvedev: the target
Ranking as of August 8, 2022 – No 1; Total points = 7,875
Current position in ATP Race to Turin (only YTD points) – No 5; Points = 2,825
Total points defending till end of 2022 = 5,050 points
- 2,000 points for winning the US Open [American swing]
- 1,000 points for winning the Canadian Open Masters [American swing]
- 360 points for reaching semi-finals of Cincinnati Masters [American swing]
- 1,000 points for finals of the Nitto ATP Finals
- 600 points for reaching finals of Paris Masters
- 90 points for reaching round of 16 in 2021 Indian Wells Masters (date changed to October due to pandemic)
Medvedev has made the summer hard-court season his points grab-fest over the last few years. But with an average first half of 2022 (the Los Cabos title was his first of 2022) and the Wimbledon ban, the Russian now faces the challenge of equaling or bettering his run last year to hold on to the top spot, something that seems quite unlikely.
Medvedev will be defending his US Open and Canada titles as well as his runner-up finishes at the Nitto ATP Finals and Paris Masters. All in all he has a total of 5,050 points to defend until the year-end. As he himself said, he pretty much has to win every tournament he enters to have a chance of ending 2022 as the world No 1 in the ATP rankings.
Alexander Zverev: in the waiting room
Ranking as of August 8, 2022 – No 2; Total points = 6,760 points
Current position in ATP Race to Turin (only YTD points) – No 6; Points = 2,700
Total points “defending” till end of 2022 = 4,060 points (Zverev won’t play until mid-September the better)
- 1,000 points for winning Cincinnati Masters [American swing]
- 720 points for reaching the semi-finals of the US Open [American swing]
- 1,300 points for winning the season-ending ATP Finals
- 500 points for winning Vienna
- 360 points for reaching the semi-finals of the ATP Paris Masters
- 180 points for reaching the quarter-finals of the 2021 Indian Wells Masters
Like Medvedev, Zverev will also have a lot of points — 4,060 — to defend in the last four months of the tennis calendar. But unlike the world No 1, Zverev is unable to compete right now as he continues to remain on the sidelines following his ankle surgery in June.
Zverev has already pulled out of the Canadian Open Masters and it remains doubtful if he will play in Cincinnati or the US Open. With more than 4,000 points up for defending, the German is likely to slide down the rankings further in the coming weeks.
Rafael Nadal: the best placed assuming he plays
Ranking as of August 8, 2022 – No 3; Total points = 5,620 points
Current position in ATP Race to Turin (only YTD points) – No 1; Points = 5,620
Total points defending till end of 2022 = Nil
Nadal‘s misfortune of missing the last four months of the 2021 season due to injury has turned into a blessing 12 months later – if he can play a regular schedule this time around. The Spaniard is not defending any points for the rest of the season going forward.
However, Nadal took a step back last week with his withdrawal from this week’s Canadian Masters due to some discomfort related to his abdominal injury. He’s expected to play at the Cincinnati Masters as well as the US Open. That’s a pool of 3,000 ranking points for any player who wins both.
Nadal’s two Grand Slam titles in 2022 have already put him at the top of the ATP race to Turin and he finds himself in prime position to end the season as world No 1in the ATP rankings for the sixth time in his career, even though he has repeatedly said that it is no longer a priority for him.
Carlos Alcaraz: the credible underdog
Ranking as of August 8, 2022 – No 4; Total points = 5,035 points
Current position in ATP Race to Turin (only YTD points) – No 2; Points = 4,270
Total points defending till end of 2022 = 765 points
- 360 points for reaching the US Open quarter-finals [American swing]
- 90 points for reaching the Winston-Salem semi-finals [American swing]
- 35 points for round of 64 in Cincinnati Masters [American swing]
- 180 points for reaching the Vienna semi-finals
- 90 points for round of 16 at Paris Masters
- 10 points for round of 64 from 2021 Indian Wells Masters (delayed due to the pandemic)
No longer the New Kid on the Block, the 19-year-old from Spain is ranked second (behind his countryman Nadal) in the race to Turin, which will hold the season-ending ATP Finals.
Thanks to two Masters series titles, an ATP 500 title, and 2 runner-up finishes, Alcaraz has built a nice cushion for himself ahead some of his more experienced rivals. With only 765 points to defend for the rest of the season, Alcaraz could give Nadal a serious push for the year-end No 1 spot in the ATP rankings, especially with a deep run at Flushing Meadows or even a win in one of the Masters 1000 tournament. He won Miami in April, so why not?
Stefanos Tsitsipas: still in the race
Ranking as of August 8, 2022 – No 5; Total points = 5,000 points
Current position in ATP Race to Turin (only YTD points) – No 3; Points = 4,010
Total points defending till end of 2022 = 990 points
- 360 points for reaching the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters [American swing]
- 360 points for reaching the semi-finals of the Canadian Masters [American swing]
- 90 points for reaching the third round of the US Open [American swing]
- 180 points for reaching the quarter-finals of the 2021 Indian Wells Masters
Largely overlooked in this discussion, Stefanos Tsitsipas is currently third on the race to Turin (fifth in the ATP rankings) thanks to two ATP titles, two runner-up finishes and a major semi-final. The Greek is defending close to 1,000 ranking points and will have plenty of opportunities in the next few months to get a leg up over his lower-ranked rivals.
In the short term, he needs to secure around 800 points during the American swing to maintain his position.
Novak Djokovic: praying for a miracle
Ranking as of August 8, 2022 – No 6; Total points = 4,770 points
Current position in ATP Race to Turin (only YTD points) – No 10; Points = 1,970
Total points defending till end of 2022 = 2,800 points
- 1,200 points for reaching the final of the US Open [American swing]
- 1,000 points for winning the Paris Masters
- 600 points for reaching the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals
In case you are wondering where all this leaves Novak Djokovic, he is ranked No 6 in the world and No 10 in the race to Turin. Djokovic. Despite playing a limited schedule in 2021 after his quest to complete the calendar Grand Slam fell agonizingly short, the Serb has to defend 2,800 ranking points. And given that he will likely miss Montreal, Cincinnati and the US Open, there could be a further slide down the rankings for the 35-year-old. He will lose 2,200 points — except if a miracle allows him to play in the United States this year.