Jannik Sinner seals huge rankings boost – now he is poised to become world No 1

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Jannik Sinner has already achieved his first big target by reaching the semi-finals of the Monte Carlo Masters, as he is now assured of hanging onto the No 2 spot in the updated ATP Rankings.

Second seed Jannik Sinner survived his first real test of the week, making it 25 wins from 26 matches this season with a 6-4, 6-7, (6) 6-3 quarter-final victory over Holger Rune.

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The Italian saw two match points slip away in the second set but recovered to book a last-four clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is enjoying being back on clay and eased to a 6-4, 6-2 win against Karen Khachanov.

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Sinner came into this week at No 3 in the live ATP Rankings, after dropping below Carlos Alcaraz ahead of the tournament in Monte Carlo.

Yet Alcaraz’s withdrawal due to an arm injury paved the way for Sinner to ensure he retained the No 2 ranking he secured for the first time in his career when he won the Miami Open last month.

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Now the question has to be – when can Sinner end Novak Djokovic’s long reign as world No 1 and become the first Italian player to rise to the top of the rankings?

Right now, Djokovic has a 1,285 rankings point advantage over Sinner, as he prepares to toast a remarkable 421 weeks as the world’s top player on Monday.

If Sinner wins in Monte Carlo – he would close into around 900 points behind Djokovic.

Winning the ATP 1000 events in Rome and Madrid could then give him enough ranking points to overtake the Serbian superstar, but there are a few caveats in this story.

Sinner has opted against playing in the ATP 500 events in Barcelona next week, so that will see the 90 points he collected from playing in the tournament last year drop off his record.

Meanwhile, Djokovic has 180 points to defend from his run to the quarter-finals at the Rome Masters last year, before his had 2,000 ranking points to defend from his French Open win at Roland-Garros last June.

Sinner has a big chance to make up ground in the Madrid and Rome events, especially as he didn’t play in the first of those two tournaments last year and has a chance to add fresh ranking points to his record.

Yet it is in Paris where the handover of power at the top of men’s tennis could take place.

Sinner was knocked out in the second round of the Grand Slam event last year, so he may well move up to provisional world No 1 in the live ATP rankings on day one of this year’s French Open.

If he was to progress to the semi-finals or final of that event, his coronation as world No 1 would be assured even if he didn’t lift the title for the first time at Roland-Garros.

“I don’t like to talk about ranking. I just try to be happy on court and improve as a player. That’s the only thing I can control,” says Sinner as he addresses the tantalising prospect of becoming Italy’s first world No 1.

“Then the rest you cannot control the uncontrollable. For sure, my dream is to become No 1 in the world, and I will work as hard as possible.”

With Djokovic playing a reduced calendar in 2024, he has made it clear that the No 1 tanking is no longer a priority at this stage of his career.

“It’s a matter of weeks before Sinner becomes world No 1. This year the ranking is not my goal,” said Djokovic.

“To achieve that, you need to play a lot of events and I am not doing that now. As I have said many times, the Grand Slams are the target for me now and I want to try and peak for them.”

It’s clear that Djokovic’s long reign as the world No 1 is coming to an end, but the record number of weeks he has held that position is unlikely to be beaten by any male player for generations to come.

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