When Rafael Nadal was eliminated from the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals on Tuesday night, history was made. Nineteen-year-old Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest ATP Presented by Pepperstone year-end No. 1 in history (since 1973), making him the first teenager to accomplish the feat.
The Spaniard has enjoyed an unforgettable rise in 2022, rising from World No. 32 earlier in the year to the top of men's tennis on September 12. That's the biggest jump to No. 1 in 50 year-end editions of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Before this year, the youngest year-end ATP No. 1 was Lleyton Hewitt, who was 20 years, 275 days old when he did so in 2001. Alcaraz will turn 19 years, 214 days on December 5, the year-end ranking year 2022 date after the last ATP Challenger Tour events of the season.
Alcaraz is the 18th ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone in history and the first outside the Big Four of Novak Djokovic (7), Roger Federer (5), Nadal (5) and Andy Murray (1) since Andy Roddick in 2003. The 19-year-old joins Nadal (2008, 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019) as Spanish number 1 at the end of the year.
2021 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Intesa Sanpaolo caused a sensation this year when he became the youngest ATP 500 champion in series history (since 2009) at the Rio Open presented by Claro. The Spaniard followed that victory with his first ATP Masters 1000 triumph in Miami.
Alcaraz led the Tour with two Masters 1000 crowns (Miami and Madrid) and five overall titles in 2022. In Madrid, he knocked out Nadal, Djokovic and then-No.3 in the world Alexander Zverev in consecutive games to lift the trophy.
Alcaraz's biggest title run was at the US Open, where he became the youngest men's singles winner at the US Major since 19-year-old Pete Sampras in 1990. He is the youngest Grand Slam men's singles champion since 19-year-old Nadal.
at Roland Garros in 2005. The teenager completed his year with a 57-13 record, including nine wins in 14 matches against Top 10 opponents.
Alcaraz got injured
Jimmy Arias believes Carlos Alcaraz possesses abilities like no other player, particularly due to his athletic prowess.
"His game's pretty good, he's an incredible athlete," Arias said. "He does things that I haven't seen players do. He can hit a 100-mile-an-hour forehand from 3 feet behind the baseline, and then on the next shot, he's at the net or pretty close to the net.
You don't see anybody do that, it's a new thing. It's impressive to watch. Obviously, he [Carlos Alcaraz] went to the US Open and he's still one of the top favorites at that tournament and it was fine. Now that he's No.
1, he's just going to have to learn to deal with it. It's different, you're not chasing anyone anymore. Everyone's chasing you, everyone's gunning for you," Arias suggested.