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Rafael Nadal And Novak Djokovic Battling For No. 1 Spot This Week….All You Need to Know……

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Rafael Nadal

It might seem unlikely, given Novak Djokovic’s record in Dubai, but the men’s world No. 1 ranking could be up for grabs again this week.

Djokovic regained the top spot earlier this month after winning the Australian Open for a record eighth time and he holds a narrow 325-point lead over Rafael Nadal on the rankings of the men’s ATP Tour.

But with 500 points available for the winner in both Dubai, where Djokovic is the top seed, and Acapulco, where Nadal tops the entries this week, the Serb knows there is little margin for error.

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Djokovic is back in Dubai for the first time since 2016 and has not won the tournament since 2013. However, as a four-time champion, he will be confident of another strong run, picking up where he left off in Australia.

“I missed it,” Djokovic told the website of the ATP Tour in Dubai. “I haven’t played here for [four] years and I look forward to getting out on the court. I started off the season in the best possible way in Australia and I am hoping I can continue that streak this week in Dubai.”

The Serb plays Malek Jaziri of Tunisia in round one, while the in-form Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who won the title in Marseille, France at the weekend for the second consecutive year, could be waiting in the final if the seedings go to plan.

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Nadal, who opens up against another Spaniard, Pablo Andujar, in Acapulco, won the title there in 2005 and 2013, when it was played on clay. After its move to hard courts in 2014, Nadal did not play again until 2017, when he lost in the final. Twelve months ago, he was beaten in the round of 16 by Australian Nick Kyrgios.

But even if he does lose the top spot this week, Djokovic will be in a good position to regain it once more as the ATP Tour heads to Indian Wells and then Miami for back-to-back Masters 1000 events in March.

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Djokovic picked up just 135 points during the US hard-court swing last year and though Nadal earned just 360 points with a semifinals showing in Indian Wells before missing Miami through injury, Djokovic’s record in the two events would suggest he is likely to be No. 1 when the Tour heads to the clay in Europe in April.

The Spaniard had knocked Djokovic off the No. 1 ranking in November, after a strong end to the season that saw him winning the U.S. Open for a fourth time. Nadal finished as world No. 1 on the men’s ATP Tour for a fifth time after a stellar season that also saw him clinch a record-extending 12th French Open title on the clay courts of Roland-Garros, and two ATP Masters 1000 titles. At 33, Nadal had been the oldest man to end the season as world No. 1 since the establishment of the ATP rankings in 1973.

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Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors have all finished the season as world No. 1 five times. Pete Sampras is the only male player to have done it six times, and Djokovic would love to break that record, he told reporters in Melbourne after he won his 17th Grand Slam singles championships, which moved him two shy of Nadal and within three of men’s Grand Slam record holder Federer of Switzerland.

“Grand Slams are one of the main reasons why I’m still competing and still playing full seasons and trying to obviously get the historic No. 1,” Djokovic, 32, said in Melbourne. “That’s the other big goal and I put myself in this position that is really good at this moment.”

“The No. 1 was not really in the equation for me until I successfully finished as the year-end No. 1 for several years in a row,” he added. “I can’t identify exactly the moment when I started thinking about it. That’s one of the two biggest goals, for sure.”

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Rafael Nadal’s Acapulco Open draw has been revealed and Express Sport brings you the Spanish star’s projected path to the final.

Rafael Nadal begins his attempt for a third title in Acapulco with an opener against Pablo Andujar. The last time the two men met was in 2014 and Nadal needed a final set tie-break to beat Andujar.

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In 2019, Nadal was beaten by Nick Kyrgios in a gripping three-set match which ended with the 19-time Grand Slam champion claiming the Australian “lacks respect for the crowd, his opponent and towards himself”.

This year, defending champion Kyrgios is on the opposite side of the draw and they can’t meet until the final.

Should Nadal come through Andujar as expected he will face a member of the ATP’s NextGen in either Alex de Minaur or Miomir Kecmanovic.

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In the quarter-finals, Nadal could then meet the improving Dusan Lajovic, who helped Serbia to victory at the ATP Cup in January.

If Nadal gets through to the semi-finals, it could be his toughest test of the tournament with Stan Wawrinka potentially waiting.

Nadal and Wawrinka have met 22 times and the world No 2 holds a healthy 19-3 lead.

And should Nadal reach the final at the weekend, he is projected to meet second seed Alexander Zverev.

Zverev won their last meeting at the ATP Finals in November and he made a maiden Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open last month.

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