Medvedev became the first man outside of the Big Four to hold the world No 1 ranking in 18 years when he ascended to the top spot at the end of February. But just three weeks later he handed the ranking back to Djokovic when he lost his first, and so far only, match as the world No 1 in Indian Wells.
He had a chance to gain it back at the Miami Open but fell one match short of reclaiming the world No 1 spot when he lost to defending champion Hubert Hurkacz in the quarter-finals, struggling with dizzziness and cramps as he could be seen doubling over and struggling between points. On Saturday, Medvedev announced he had been playing with a “small hernia” for several months and would be undergoing a “small procedure” to fix it, leaving him out of competition for one to two months.
It means the world No 2 is likely to miss most of, if not all of the upcoming clay-court swing. But although he will be unable to build on his ranking points, Djokovic will need to put in the work to defend his own abundance of points from the last clay season to hold onto his ranking or risk losing it to Medvedev again.
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Last year, the 20-time Major champion lost in the round-of-16 of Monte Carlo, reached the semi-finals of Belgrade 1, lost to Nadal in the Rome final and won the Belgrade 2 tournament, all before going on to win the French Open. He is only confirmed for the Monte Carlo Masters, Serbia Open and French Open so far this year as a result of his unvaccinated status.
There is also only one Belgrade ATP 250 event this season instead of two. To cement himself as the world No 1 ahead of his French Open title defence, Djokovic will need to win 840 points. It mean he must win the Serbia Open, held at his own Novak Tennis Centre where his brother Djordje is the tournament director, and reach the final of at least one of the three clay Masters 1000s, with Masters finals giving 600 points for the runners-up and 1000 for the winners.
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