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Novak Djokovic delivered some comforting news despite Madrid Open heartbreak

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Novak Djokovic will remain as the world No.1 following the Madrid Open despite his withdrawal from the tournament. The Serbian, who has incredibly just entered his 421st week on top of the ATP rankings, is now officially the oldest player to hold that spot at 36 years and 336 days.

But fans in Spain were left disappointed this week when the 24-time Grand Slam champion was not included in the draw for the clay court event, that gets underway on Wednesday and culminates with the men’s final on Sunday, May 5. Djokovic himself has not yet released a statement to explain his absence, and is set to be replaced by Frenchman Luca Van Assche.

He last appeared in the Spanish capital back in 2022, where he lost out in an epic semi-final to home favourite Carlos Alcaraz. But 12 months ago, he withdrew on the eve of the event, with history now repeating itself.

The development seemingly put his status as world No.1 under threat from Jannik Sinner, who beat Djokovic en route to his maiden slam title at the Australian Open this year. However, it’s now been confirmed that his current points tally of 9990 will remain unchanged after the tournament in Spain, as he also didn’t enter in 2023 and therefore has no ranking points to defend.

Indeed, Djokovic’s position will not come under threat until the conclusion of the Rome Open on May 19. Even then, Sinner would have to prevail in both Madrid and the Italian capital to displace him at the top.

The 22-year-old currently sits on 8660 points. Carlos Alcaraz is lying third on 8145, more than 1000 clear of the fourth ranked player, Daniil Medvedev (7085).

It’s been a frustrating 2024 campaign thus far for Djokovic, who following his failure to defend his title in Melbourne at the start of the year did not play again until March, at the Indian Wells Masters. There, he was knocked out by world No.123 Luca Mardi, the lowest ranked player to ever beat him in a Masters 1000 or Grand Slam event.

His Monte-Carlo Masters campaign yielded a place in the semi-finals, but only after a tournament where Djokovic feuded with the home crowds and prompted concerns by appearing to physically struggle in matches. His campaign eventually ended at the hands of eventual winner Casper Ruud.

He’s recently been pictured on social media enjoying time on the golf course, enhancing the perception that the all-time great is managing his workload ahead of the French Open. That tournament gets underway on May 20, with the Serbian set to head in as the defending champion having beaten Ruud in the final last year.

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