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As we near the conclusion of the 2023 calendar, the race for the top rung of both the ATP and WTA rankings will head down to the final events.

With just seven events to play for the women and 12 for the men, the honour of entering the new year as the best player in the world will fall on just two players and the battles are hotly contested on both sides.

At the commencement of 2023, it looked as though Iga Swiatek would run away with the honour following her blistering finish to 2022.

However, Aryna Sabalenka has announced her arrival as a major contender thanks to a maiden Grand Slam at Melbourne Park in January and her confidence has seen her skyrocket to the top of the mountain.

The Belarusian boasts a 1,305 point lead over Swiatek with both set to step on court in Beijing next week for the illustrious WTA 1000, with the Chinese capital set to play a pivotal role in deciding the outcome of the battle.

Both players have qualified for the WTA Finals in Zhuhai, as have recently crowned US Open conqueror Coco Gauff and 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina who sit 90 points apart in third and fourth respectively.

Gauff is placed 1,340 behind Swiatek and will look to make inroads into her unlikely quest for the top spot in Beijing with her Kazakh counterpart looking to do the same.

While it is mathematically possible for the pair to catch the Belarusian and Pole, it is seemingly down to a two horse race to decide the accolade.

It is a similar story on the ATP, with a titanic tussle ensuing between Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz.

The duo have traded blows all year, swapping places on numerous occasions with the Serbian currently holding sway thanks to his third Grand Slam title of the year in New York to go with his epic salutation over the Spaniard in Cincinnati.

Djokovic sits 725 points ahead of his junior opponent as the Asian swing heads towards its climax at the Shanghai Masters in early October, but the 20-year-old Alcaraz can edge closer in Beijing this week at the ATP 500 event.

Following Shanghai, the circuit will make its way back to Europe for the series of indoor tournaments that culminate with the Paris Masters 1000, another opportunity for both to make a charge at the number one ranking.

It looks as though the pair will fight it out right until the ATP Finals in early November, with the only other player that can trouble them being Daniil Medvedev at 1,585 points adrift of Alcaraz.

But with a healthy end to the season at tournaments that he has previously enjoyed success, the former World Number 1 will back himself strongly to contend for the placing at the end of the 2023 calendar.

However, it looks as though it is down to two for both races, but the battle will be mighty as all four combatants have enjoyed stellar years.

We can only hope that they come down to the final match of the year to decide it.


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