Rafael Nadal aims to end Novak Djokovic’s run of 100 weeks at the top of the ATP rankings.
He can replace Djokovic at No. 1 if he advances to the final at the China Open in Beijing.
The fact is, Djokovic is holding a mortgage on more than 2,000 points (2,110 to be exact) that he earned last year with big wins in the ATP World Tour Finals, the Shanghai Masters and the Beijing 500 event.
Djokovic will be unable to add to his points total at any of those events; he can only replace those points with the same amount or lose ranking points by failing to duplicate those outstanding results.
It’s how the ranking system works. Each week the points earned from the previous year drop off the computer while the points earned that week are added.
Now look at Nadal’s situation: He has absolutely no ranking points to defend until well after the Australian Open. He missed the entire year after Wimbledon in 2012.
It’s all profit for Nadal now and all operating expenses for Djokovic.
If you’re a Djokovic fan, you can always look on the bright side: Losing the top ranking will be painful for him, but he looks like a man in need of a wake-up call after a bittersweet year.
He made three Grand Slam finals and one semi, and while his year was made in advance when he won the Australian Open, those losses at the other three majors had real sting.
For Nadal, there’s only the No. 1 goal in sight.
Just for kicks, here’s that 54-shot rally from the U.S. Open between Nadal and Djokovic…