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Tennis

Best youngest tennis player in history before Carlos Alcaraz

BJORN BORG: Best Youngest TEnnis player
BJORN BORG. Photo/BBC Partners
  • Carlos Alcaraz beat Casper Ruud in four sets
  • Alcaraz is quickly taking the steps of Rafael Nadal                                           
  • Nadal won his first Grand Slam when he was 19 years old

When Carlos Alcaraz beat Casper Ruud 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-1), and 6-3 in the 2022 U.S Open finals, he became the best youngest tennis player. You may not know that he added to the list of great tennis players who made similar history decades ago.

Before we deliberate on this, note that he joined nine other tennis legends in making this history. Alcaraz broke the record for youngest player to reach No. 1 in the world rankings.

But who are the other nine youngest men ever to lead the ATP Rankings? Let’s take a dig at this.

WHO IS THE YOUNGEST NUMBER 1 IN TENNIS?

Alcaraz, is the current youngest tennis player in the world. The 19-year-old Spaniard bagged world No. 1 ranking after winning his maiden Grand Slam in New York.

It took four sets against his Norwegian competitor to clinch his victory. He finally made it after confession that his idol remains to be fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal.

Incidentally, there are other great tennis players who achieved this fete. Here they are.

RAFAEL NADAL

Rafael Nadal U.S Open loss

Rafael Nadal U.S Open loss Photo/ Danielle Parhizkaran-USA TODAY Sports

Nadal won the 2005 French Open at the age of 19 years, 3 months, and 2 days, making him the fifth, best youngest tennis player ever to do it.

He had to beat Roger Federer to get to the top of the ATP rankings, and it took another three and a half years.

Nadal had already won four French Opens and one Wimbledon title by the time he became World No. 1. His first run at the top lasted 46 weeks until Federer took it again.

JIM COURIER

Courier surpassed Stefan Edberg and became world No. 1 just weeks after he won his second Grand Slam title at the 1992 Australian Open. He remained at the top for six weeks until the Swede took back the position.

The American won four majors and had a total of 58 weeks in the top spot, spread between three separate stints at the top.

JIMMY CONNORS

Jimmy Connors

Jimmy Connors. Photo/Tennis World

Not long after his 1974 Wimbledon victory, American Jimmy Connors ascended to the top of the tennis rankings. Then 21-year-old, he had a fantastic season, winning a total of 13 tournaments and tournament series.

Over the course of his career, Connors won eight Grand Slam titles and held the No. 1 ranking for 160 straight weeks till Bjorn Borg surpassed him in 1977.

ANDY RODDICK

Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick. Photo/US Open.org

In the early 2000s, Roddick was the greatest American tennis prospect. He ultimately achieved his goal by winning the US Open in 2003 and ending the year as the world No. 1 player.

His 13 weeks at the top ended in February of 2004. Federer’s dominance thereafter left him in second place at Wimbledon in 2004, 2005, and 2009, and at the US Open in 2005.

BJORN BORG

After winning his fourth Grand Slam title in August 1977, the “Ice Man” became the best youngest tennis player ever to reach No. 1. However, his reign was brief, and Connors quickly reclaimed the position.

The 11-time Grand Slam champion dominated the rankings for a combined 109 weeks. It was across six separate stints, the last of which ended in August 1981.

LLEYTON HEWITT

After more than three decades of stagnation, the Australian finally rose to the top in September 2001. He won the 2021 U.S Open and stayed there until April 2003.

Not only did Hewitt win Wimbledon in 2002, but he also dominated the sport for an impressive 80 weeks.

JOHN MCENROE

John McEnroe

John McEnroe. Photo/NPR

McEnroe’s rise to the top of the tennis world in 1980 became the best youngest tennis player ever. This followed his first Grand Slam victory at the US Open the year before.

He became the youngest player ever to hold that position. Three weeks was all the time he spent on top, but for the next decade he would take turns at the top with Borg, Connors, and Lendl.

The seven-time major winner spent a total of 170 weeks at No. 1 across 14 separate stints.

MARAT SAFIN

After McEnroe won the US Open, the Russian quickly rose to the top and dethroned him.

After Safin’s 2005 Australian Open victory, he was ranked No. 1 for four weeks before Gustavo Kuerten took control. He spent a combined nine weeks at the helm throughout his two subsequent spells.

WHO IS THE YOUNGEST TENNIS PLAYER TO WIN A GRAND SLAM?

Michael Chang holds the record for being the youngest male winner of a Grand Slam tournament. He had just turned 17 years old and 110 days when he won the title.

In 1989, he defeated Stefan Edberg to win the French Open and made history.

WHO IS THE YOUNGEST US OPEN WINNER?

Alcaraz is the youngest winner of the U.S Open in its long history. He credits his success to staying focused and looking to Nadal, his mentor.

Surprisingly, Alcaraz won a hard court tournament while he reigns on the clay court. Just like Nadal, the 2022 U.S Open winner trained most on clay courts back in Spain.

Teresa is a journalist with years of experience in creating web content. She is a wanderlust at heart, but an outgoing sports writer with focus on tennis, athletics, football, motorsports and NBA.

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