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Djokovic Closing On Nadal In No. 1 Battle

Djokovic© Getty ImagesNovak Djokovic has a big chance to reclaim the World No. 1 spot on the European clay.

Novak Djokovic has a big opportunity to reclaim the World No. 1 mantle in the Emirates ATP Rankings from Rafael Nadal in coming weeks. The top two players on the ATP World Tour have been engaged in a scintillating rivalry in recent years and are set to duel on the European dirt in the next two months for the prized World No. 1 crown.

There will be no opportunity for Djokovic to return to No. 1 at next week's Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, where he is the defending champion after ending Nadal’s eight-year reign last year. 

Indeed, while there is a possibility that Djokovic could usurp the Spaniard as early as mid-May on the Monday after the Mutua Madrid Open, it is more likely that any change at the top - if indeed there is one at all - would come deep into the clay-court season, possibly at Roland Garros in early June.

During the eight-week European clay-court swing, Nadal is defending over 3,000 points more than Djokovic, whom he currently leads by just over 2,000 points in the 52-week Emirates ATP Rankings. 

Nadal was rampant on the dirt last year, winning titles in Barcelona, Madrid, Rome and Roland Garros, and needs to defend 5,100 points. Though Djokovic triumphed in Monte-Carlo and reached the Roland Garros semi-finals, he suffered a second-round exit in Madrid and was beaten in the Rome quarter-finals, which leaves him defending just 1,910 points. 

Points earned at a tournament stay on a player’s ranking for 52 weeks before dropping off. 

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How do the Emirates ATP Rankings work?

The 27-year-old Nadal has held the No. 1 ranking for a total of 129 weeks, reclaiming the top spot last year after an astounding comeback to the ATP World Tour. Having been sidelined for seven months with a left knee injury, Nadal returned to win five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles and two Grand Slam trophies and duly overtook Djokovic on 7 October.

After going title-less through the first two months of the 2014 season for the first time since 2006, Djokovic hit top form to claim the Indian Wells-Miami double for the second time (also 2011), closing the gap on Nadal to 2050 points at the top of the Emirates ATP Rankings. The Belgrade native had also finished 2013 as the player to beat, winning four titles in a row in Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London.

The top two rekindled their rivalry two weeks ago in the final of the Sony Open Tennis in Miami, with Djokovic winning the 40th installment in straight sets. He has won his past three meetings with Nadal, though the Spaniard leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head 22-18.

Read: Rafa & Novak – The Rivalry

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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal

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