Novak Djokovic is the defending Italian Open champion and holds the No. 1 spot, but Carlos Alcaraz may not be able to overtake him.
If Alcaraz is able to retain his Madrid Open title, he will find himself five points behind Djokovic heading into a week without a point to defend.
Alcaraz pulled out of last season’s Italian Open after he felt his efforts in Spain.
The Spaniard will be aiming to emulate his 2022 efforts and lift both the Barcelona and Madrid trophies, but will no doubt want to continue his record, given his relegation from this point last season.
Alcaraz has done enough to surpass Djokovic if he wins the Madrid Open and secures his place in the main draw in Rome next week.
However, there is another man who can play havoc in Madrid and take the top spot in Rome.
Stephanos Tsitsipas can reach No. 1 next week in Rome, but first he must win the Madrid Open.
Following that, Tsitsipas will need to secure the title in Rome to carry enough points to reach the top of the rankings for the first time in his career.
Tsitsipas has come close to taking the top spot on a few occasions but has come up short in some of his biggest matches.
If neither Tsitsipas nor Alcaraz win the title in Madrid, Djokovic will have the fate of the No. 1 ranking in his hands.
An early exit from Rome could see Djokovic fall from the top spot as his closest rivals manage to lift the trophy.
Djokovic withdrew from the Madrid Open to recover from an elbow injury that hampered his progress in Monte Carlo and Banja Luka.
A group of five or six players are in the running to become world No. 1 after the French Open, although a title win in Rome would put any member of the current top ten in the frame.
It goes without saying that Alcaraz has the ability to change the goalposts a bit for all of those players, and that he and Djokovic have to come out of their game to sneak up on another player and take the upper hand.
Alcaraz faces Borna Coric in the last four at the Madrid Open, while Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up a last eight meeting with Jan-Lenard Struff to match his performance from last season.
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