Bizarre Claim Puts Carlos Alcaraz as the Benefactor of Novak Djokovic’s Historic Australian Misery

Published 02/22/2024, 6:16 AM EST

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Many tennis fans have a habit of checking the ATP rankings every Monday, just to ensure how the results from the previous week have impacted their favorite player’s ranking. However, recently the renowned tennis author, Marshall Happer, made a bizarre comment on the ranking system while he was on the ‘Rock n Roll Tennis’ podcast. Happer claimed that Novak Djokovic‘s inactive 2022 season, due to multiple reasons off the court, hastened Carlos Alcaraz to world number one.

Djokovic had started the season as the clear world number one but ended the year in the number 5th spot. Carlos Alcaraz, who had clinched his maiden Grand Slam title at the 2022 US Open became the new world number one.

Tennis author reflects on why Novak Djokovic lost his top spot two years ago


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Novak Djokovic failed to defend his Australian Open title in 2022 and was deported on the eve of the tournament for being ‘not vaccinated’ against COVID-19. He was also handed a 3-year travel ban. Shortly after that, he dropped 200 points and lost his top spot, slipping down to the 7th in the world. Carlos Alcaraz won 5 titles in 2022, including a major title, two 1000s, and two 500s events. Despite Djokovic winning the Wimbledon Championship that year, the Spaniard was crowned as the new world number one for the 2022 season.


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Here’s what Happer said about the ranking system in the podcast, “They did away with the ranking system in 1990, I didn’t realize that until recently. What it is now is a cumulative point system based on 20 tournaments. So they add up all your points in 20 tournaments and then rank you by your total points. The problem is, if you’re like Novak a couple years ago, and he hadn’t played 10 tournaments. And somebody else was all of a sudden being called number one in the world.

Marshall Happer went on to add, Well, if you’d if you’d have taken an average of Novak’s points then or Rafa‘s points then based on the number of tournaments they’d actually played. And that’s why we had something ridiculous one year that Rafa played Novak in the quarterfinals of the French Open. That was the ranking system is walk.”

But apart from the ATP rankings, there is another ranking system that often pops up on the news. Players and coaches are often found heaping praise on the UTR ratings.


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What is the ‘best way to measure yourself’ according to Djokovic?

As per the UTR rankings which were released earlier this month, Jannik Sinner has replaced the 24-time Grand Slam champion as the new world number one. However, Novak Djokovic had once heaped praise on the UTR ratings. He said, “The UTR Rating is the best way to measure yourself against all other players regardless of their age or skill level.” 

What are UTR ratings? It greatly differs from the ATP list, which ranks players based on the points they have collected over 52 weeks. But in the case of UTR, the victories against the higher-ranked players are taken into account way more than the ATP or the WTA rankings. They offer more importance on the current form from the last few weeks and months. 


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It’s a system that experts believe promotes fair and competitive play across the tennis world. Brad Gilbert once said, “It (UTR) is a very good system.Let us know what are your thoughts on the current ranking system. Which system do you prefer the most?

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Written by:

Sayantan Roy


One take at a time

Sayantan Roy is a Tennis Writer at EssentiallySports, who crafts tennis tales that not only capture the game's essence but also reflect his creative genius. As a believer in unbiased journalism, Sayantan, a fan of both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, loves to fuse the world of such tennis rivals and present balanced copies as fan reaction pieces. Engaged in sports since college, he brings that passion to life.
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Edited by:

Shudh Mukherjee