Novak Djokovic is easily the best player on tour at the moment, the question is whether he can sustain his run and become a legitimate world No.1?
I believe he can, this is assuming that Nadal is not disadvantaged by any future injuries and he continues to have the upper-hand on Roger Federer.
I see no reason why Djokovic cannot push Nadal seriously close in the rankings, and move clear of Federer and Murray. The most obvious advantage for Djokovic is that Nadal does have A LOT of ranking points to defend, whereas 2010 was not a trophy laden season for Djokovic.
The US Open and Wimbledon represent the best opportunities for Djokovic to close in on Nadal, and on current form there are clear indications this may happen. Starting with the North American hard-court season, Djokovic can collate a lot of ranking points due to his poor 2010 results.
Losing in the fourth round to eventual champion Ivan Ljubicic at Indian Wells means just three victories will earn a boost of ranking points. This type of scenario is even more promising in Miami, where Djokovic lost his opening match last year amid huge concerns for his serve.
Looking ahead to the clay court season and it becomes even more open for Djokovic to get a vast amount of ranking points. At the Monte Carlo Masters, he reached the semifinal, something which he should be able to repeat without many problems.
At the Rome Masters, he lost in the quarterfinals after reaching the final the year before, so there is definitely scope for improvement there, and improvement that he really should be able to make.
In his hometown tournament, the Serbia Open, and the Madrid Masters, he had to pull out due to allergies. This means he had no points to defend at all, so just turning up will be an upgrade.
In the past he has won the Serbia Open (which is worth 250 points) and reached the semifinals at Madrid, so he’s proven that he can reach the latter stages of those tournaments.
The opportunities for getting a lot more ranking points than last year appear to be endless for Novak. At the French Open he suffered a hugely disappointing loss to Jurgen Melzer, being two sets and a break up; he lost that quarterfinal match in five sets.
Reaching the semifinals should not be a problem for one of the top clay court players in the men’s game, and providing another points boost.
The two major obstacles for Djokovic will be repeating (or improving) his performances at Wimbledon and the US Open. Djokovic reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, something many people thought was a surprise as he was not one of the talked about players before in the tournament.
A kind draw at Wimbledon would be nice, but reaching the quarterfinals may be enough in damage control.
Of course, improving on last year’s semifinal is not unrealistic. Djokovic knows he can play a good game on grass, and with the added mental strength he got from winning the David Cup, maybe he should be looking at a first Wimbledon final appearance.
The US Open is the second major danger to the ranking point’s tally of Djokovic. Although given his history at the US Open and hard-court form, he will be one of the top favorites to win the tournament.
For Djokovic to be No. 1 this year may be unlikely, given that he is 4,590 points behind Nadal. Although, with some luck it might be possible. Djokovic will need to win at least one more grand slam if he is to become No. 1 this year.
Regardless, within two years I believe he will be very close to Nadal. The rivalry between the two players is set to become the biggest for the next five years and with the added confidence that Djokovic now possesses, he may be able to turn the tables on Nadal.