Djokovic gains more No 1 backing as Aus Open ‘importance’ outlined

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Novak Djokovic has received more backing in the argument that he is the “true” world No 1 despite ending the season at No 5 in the rankings. Australian tennis icon Todd Woodbridge explained that it was “important” for the Aussie Open to have Djokovic back in 2023 after he was deported this year and became the latest former pro to claim that the rankings were “skewed”.

Djokovic recently learned that he would be able to return Down Under in time for the first Grand Slam of 2023 after his ban on visiting the country was overturned. The 35-year-old was deported on the eve of the tournament 11 months ago, an act which carries an automatic three-year ban, but successfully appealed and will have the chance to play for a record 10th Aussie Open title come January.

Following the decision, Woodbridge explained that it was “important” to have the world’s best players at the tournament and claimed that the Serb was the true world No 1 despite the ranking currently belonging to Carlos Alcaraz. “I think that’s the best scenario for the tournament because we want the best players playing at the Australian Open,” the 22-time doubles Major winner told Wide World of Sports Radio.

“What goes into the Open in terms of the build-up, prize money, what it does to our reputation around the world — we want the very best to be allowed to come here and allowed to play. And given the fact that Novak has won it nine times, he goes into it now as a heavy favourite after not being allowed to play this year.”

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As part of his argument, the retired pro claimed that Djokovic was the best player in the world despite being ranked at world No 5. The recent ATP Finals champion was left unable to play the US Open and four Masters 1000s this year as well as the Australian Open – missing out on playing for up to 8,000 worth of ranking points – while there were no points given at Wimbledon which meant that Djokovic missed out on earning 2,000 as this year’s winner. It led Woodbridge to claim that the standings were inaccurate.

He continued: “In my mind, the rankings this year are so skewed. He is still the No 1 player in the world and to have him back is really important.” Woodbridge joins a series of other former and current pros who have recently claimed that they saw Djokovic as the top man despite the rankings.

After 19-year-old Alcaraz became the youngest year-end No 1 in history last week, despite being unable to play the ATP Finals through injury, Andy Roddick told Tennis Channel: “As we look forward to next year, I think it will be hard to find someone who doesn’t think Novak Djokovic is the best player in the world.”

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Last month, the Spaniard’s own countryman Albert Ramos Vinolas told Mundo Deportivo: “The fact that Novak Djokovic is not playing every tournament has benefited Alcaraz to reach No 1.” Meanwhile, Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic has been quick to remind people that his charge could have been No 1 in the world if his Wimbledon points counted.

“In the end, he could finish No 1 in the world if ATP didn’t take the points from Wimbledon. I don’t want to talk about 8,000 points that he could not even defend or be there,” he said following Djokovic’s ATP Finals victory on Sunday. But the man himself has continued to support Alcaraz’s position in the rankings, as last month he told Sportal: “Alcaraz is the world No 1, he is the best.”

He reiterated his point after winning his sixth ATP Finals crowd, saying: “Overall the rankings are showing who had the best year, and Alcaraz is the No 1 in the world. Not much to say about that.”

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