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Yes, Alcaraz is world No 1 with “relatively few” ATP points; No, Dimitrov was not 7th once with a higher total

According to Mischa Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov told him that one season he had 7,000 points but was ranked No 7. But, as we explain, the Bulgarian never had that many points

© AI / Reuters Panoramic and © Norbert Scanella / Panoramic

This weekend, tennis gave rise to a “Fact Check” sequence, as is often the case in the world of general news, but which is actually quite rare in our sport, where everything is often a matter of figures, scores and stats, and where the objective facts speak for themselves. The subject? Carlos Alcaraz’s No 1 place in the ATP rankings.

Mischa Zverev, Alexander’s older brother, might have remembered this from what he told Eurosport was a recent discussion with Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian is said to have told him that he once had 7,000 points, and that with that total he would have only been world No 7. The implication being that Alcaraz has been lucky to be No 1 with his current total of 6740.

Either Zverev misunderstood what Dimitrov said or the Bulgarian has a short memory.

The Twitter account Jeu, Set et Maths, very knowledgeable about the statistics of the tennis world, fact-checked these statements and put things into perspective. Dimitrov held a maximum of 5,150 points in his career, in 2018, when he was the world No 3. He would be fourth in the world today with that same number of points, quite a distance from Alcaraz’s total.

It should be added that the Bulgarian never held more than 3,755 ATP points when he was ranked seventh in the world.

Wimbledon would not have changed anything for Alcaraz 

In order to get to the bottom of the noise surrounding Alcaraz’s points total, Jeu, Set et Maths has provided Tennis Majors with some statistics to put the ATP rankings back on track.

The number of points for the world No 1 and all players is inextricably linked to the ATP’s decision to remove points from Wimbledon this year. The total ATP points deficit for Wimbledon 2022 was 11,912 points. A deficit that, taking into account the players’ results in London, would not have made any difference to the current top two in the ATP rankings. 

Carlos Alcaraz would still be world No 1 and Rafael Nadal would still be No 2. The only big loser is Novak Djokovic, who would currently be No 3 if he had kept his 2000 points from winning Wimbledon. 

PlayersRanking as of Monday Oct 3Ranking with WimbledonPoints with WimbledonConsequence
Carlos Alcaraz116920No change
Rafael Nadal226530No change
Novak Djokovic735820Down 4 places
Casper Ruud345645Up one place
Daniil Medvedev455065Up one place
Alexander Zverev565040Up one place
Stefanos Tsitsipas674855Up one place
Cameron Norrie884120No change
Jannik Sinner1293400Down 3 places
Taylor Fritz11103370Down 1 place
@ Jeu, Set e Maths

Yes, Alcaraz is the world No 1 with the fewest ATP points since the new ranking system began in 2009

One of the consequences of the lack of points at Wimbledon is that Alcaraz has become the player with the lowest number of ATP points as world No 1 one since the new points system was introduced in 2009. With 6,740 points, he is ahead of Daniil Medvedev (world No 1 in August 2022 with 6,885 pts) and Rafael Nadal (world No 1 in August 2017 with 7,645 pts).

Including Wimbledon, Carlos Alcaraz would have had 6,920 ATP points and would therefore only be “second” in this ranking of the least well-renumerated No 1s.

Zverev and Thiem were outside the top five with more points than Alcaraz 

So while Grigor Dimitrov can’t complain with his maximum of 5,150 ATP points, other players would have a legitimate complaint. In the 2021 season, two players had more points than Alcaraz but sat outside the world’s top 5!

Between May 10 and July 5, 2021, with 7,350 ATP points after the French Open, Alexander Zverev was ranked sixth in the world. He would be No 1 today with the same number of points. Dominic Thiem, on the other hand, who earned 7,425 points between July 12 and September 6, 2021, was also ranked sixth in the world. 

All of them will have a chance to challenge Alcaraz for the top spot by the end of the year. The Spaniard has already qualified for the ATP Finals, along with Casper Ruud, Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas, but it is not certain that he will retain his top spot.

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