As players are putting the finishing touches to their game before Wimbledon kick-off on Monday, four men are not only competing for a Grand Slam title but also the world No1 ranking.
Andy Murray, the current resident of that highly sought-after top spot, has three players chasing him, with Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic all mathematically in a position to overtake the Scot.
Murray’s reign at the summit, which started last November, has not gone as smoothly as he would have hoped. He is 21-9 win-loss this season, compared to 33-6 heading into Wimbledon last year, and has picked up just one title in 2017 (in Dubai).
The 30-year-old arrived at Wimbledon suffering from a sore hip and coming off an opening round defeat to world No90 Jordan Thompson in Queens.
Murray is aware it might be hard for him to keep his No1 ranking this year.
“It’s most likely that I’ll lose the No1 spot at some point this year. If you want to stay at No1 you can’t have periods of three months of the year where you’re not winning matches, not performing well in the big events, which was the case for me until the French Open,” he was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
“So more than likely that will happen and that’s fine. I’m not trying to win Wimbledon for the ranking points. I just want to win Wimbledon. That’s my goal.”
If Murray reaches the Wimbledon final, he will keep his No1 ranking. If he doesn’t, any of Nadal, Wawrinka and Djokovic has the opportunity to overtake him. Here are the possible scenarios:
Murray has been world No1 for 34 weeks, while Nadal has spent 141 weeks in that position, and Djokovic 223 weeks.
For Wawrinka, if he does pull it off – he would have to win the title with both Murray and Nadal losing before the final – it would be the first time he’s occupied that spot and it probably would come as a surprise for the Swiss, who had told Sky Sports at the ATP Finals last November that he doesn’t have a realistic chance of becoming world No1.
“I don’t think so. Right now I’m 31,” Wawrinka said when asked if he could challenge Murray and Djokovic at the top, at the time. “I know I can beat every player, I need to do it more often in the year if I want to think about that, but so far I’m way off that.”
Nadal must at least reach the fourth round at Wimbledon in order to have any chance of leapfrogging Murray. After he captured a record 10th Roland Garros title last month, the Spaniard was asked if the No1 ranking is on his mind.
“I am playing well and I am in a good position… If I am able to keep playing well, [then] why not?” said the Spanish 15-time Grand Slam champion.
Djokovic is currently ranked No4 in the world, having dropped out of the top-three for the first time since 2009 following his Roland Garros quarter-final exit to Dominic Thiem. He said after that loss that he is up for the challenge of trying to fight back for the top spot.
“[Being No1] is one of the highest points that you can reach as a tennis player… one of the highest goals of any player. I know how it feels to get to that spot, to be there, and to also lose that spot. I hope that the experience that I have and also the time ahead of me will serve me well and, hopefully, I’ll be able to get back,” said Djokovic.
The Serb would have to win the title, with Murray and Nadal both losing before the semi-finals, in order to regain the No1 ranking.