Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Carlos Alcaraz, 19, becomes youngest world No. 1 in men’s ATP rankings history after US Open title

Carlos Alcaraz won the 2022 US Open on Sunday, earning his first Grand Slam title. The 19-year-old also became the youngest world No. 1 in the history of the ATP rankings. Alcaraz’s previous career-high was No. 4, but he has done all the right things this year to make the jump and solidify the fact that he is Spain’s next tennis star.

Alcaraz is the first teenage World No. 1 and also the fourth male Spanish player to reach that ranking, joining his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya, and Rafael Nadal.

He achieved this by taking a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (1), 6-3 victory against Casper Ruud at Flushing Meadows. If Ruud had won, he would’ve been No. 1. Alcaraz gave some jaw-dropping performances during his US Open run, including intense five-set battles against Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe. 

“I would say I overcame myself a little bit,” Alcaraz said during the press conference. “I mean, yeah, I played a great matches, high intensity, during the two weeks that I’ve never done before.”

At 19 years, 129 days old, Alcaraz became the youngest player to win a men’s US Open title since Pete Sampras in 1990. He is also the seventh youngest player — male or female — to ever win a Grand Slam. Before that victory, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer or Nadal had won 20 of the previous 22 major titles. Djokovic and Federer did not compete at Flushing Meadows this year. 

Alcaraz has been on the rise for a while, but this has been a breakout season for him. It started with being seeded for the first time at a Grand Slam during at the 2022 Australian Open, in which he reached the third round. 

Shortly after his 19th birthday, Alcaraz became the youngest player to ever compete in a Madrid Open final. His journey there included taking down Nadal in the quarterfinals a day after his birthday. He then took down the then-world No. 1 and top seed Djokovic in the semifinals — becoming the youngest player to beat Nadal and Djokovic back-to-back on clay.

Ruud fell short of the top ranking but his efforts in his US Open run did not go unrewarded. The 23-year-old from Norway reached a career-best No. 2 on Monday. Nadal, who fell to Tiafoe in the round of 16, was able to keep the No. 3 spot. Meanwhile, Tiafoe wasn’t able to end the Americans’ long streak without a Grand Slam title in a men’s competition, but he became the first American man to reach semifinals since 2006, and was rewarded by reaching a career-best No. 19 ranking.

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