22 years ago, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were the world’s best players until mid-season. For over two decades, no player from the same country has been in the top-2, mainly because none of the compatriots Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic could follow.
That will change on Monday thanks to Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, who will make Spanish tennis history as their country’s first duo, finishing 1st and 2nd! Alcaraz will spend his fourth week as world No. 1. 1 while Nadal returns to the top-2 for the first time since May 2021.
Two Spaniards were the best players of the season, leading the ATP race ahead of their main rivals. 19-year-old Carlos made history at the US Open, becoming the seventh-youngest major champion and the first teenager to inherit the ATP throne.
With two Masters 1000 titles and a Major crown to his name, Alcaraz is the most accomplished teenager since Nadal himself and looks set to finish the season on top. Carlos won the ATP 500 crown in Rio de Janeiro and after over three hours lost to Rafa in a close semifinal in Indian Wells.
The youngster bounced back in Miami and claimed his first Masters 1000 title before lifting the Barcelona trophy a month later to crack the top-10, still at 18! Alcaraz didn’t stop there, defeating Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev en route to his second Masters 1000 title in a month and a half in Madrid.
Carlos became the contender for the ATP race leader and added more points with the quarter-final run at Roland Garros. Losing two ATP Finals in Hamburg and Umag on clay, Alcaraz traveled to New York as one of the favourites. Carlos had a chance to become the youngest world No. 1.
1 in ATP history with a deep run at the final Major of the season. Nadal and Medvedev fell on the fourth lap, leaving the door open for Alcaraz and Casper Ruud to overtake him. Alcaraz and Ruud met in the US Open final and fought for the first Major title and the ATP throne.
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal will top the ATP rankings on Monday.
Carlos delivered a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3 win in three hours and 20 minutes for a career-best result and a place in history. Nadal will enter the top-2 over 17 years after finding himself there, not defending points for the rest of the year and overtaking Casper Ruud, who retired early in Seoul.
Rafa didn’t play in the second half of 2021 and made a perfect return at the start of the new season. He claimed 20 straight wins in 2022 and claimed his first Australian Open crown in 13 years after a memorable comeback against Daniil Medvedev.
Rafa conquered the ATP 500 event in Acapulco over Medvedev and Cameron Norrie, traveling to Indian Wells as a favourite. Nadal suffered a fractured rib and was unable to do much against Taylor Fritz in the title fight, losing for the first time this year and skipping Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
The Spaniard returned in Madrid and Rome not playing his best tennis, struggling with a foot injury and casting dark clouds over his preparation for Roland Garros. As so often before, Nadal was a player to beat in Paris, receiving injections before every game and taking down seven rivals to secure his 22nd Major title!
Nadal received no points for the Wimbledon semifinals and left London with an abdominal injury that threatened his summer swing on hard court. Skipping Montreal, Rafa suffered an early loss to Borna Coric in Cincinnati.
With no form or games, the Spaniard suffered the fourth-round loss to Frances Tiafoe and lost a chance to become world No. 1. 1 at 36.