Twenty-two years ago, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were the world's leading players until the middle of the season. For over two decades, no players from the same country were in the top-2, mainly because none of the compatriots could follow Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
That will change on Monday thanks to Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, who will write Spanish tennis history as the first duo from their country ranked 1st and 2nd! Alcaraz will spend his fourth week as world no. 1, while Nadal enters the top-2 for the first time since May 2021.
Two Spaniards have been the season's best players, leading the ATP Race ahead of their main rivals. The 19-year-old Carlos wrote history at the US Open, becoming the seventh-youngest Major champion and the first teenager on the ATP throne.
With two Masters 1000 titles and a Major crown by his name, Alcaraz is the most accomplished teenager since Nadal himself, looking good to finish the season at the top. Carlos won the ATP 500 crown in Rio de Janeiro and lost a tight Indian Wells semi-final to Rafa after over three hours.
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! Not stopping there, Alcaraz defeated Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev en route to his second Masters 1000 title within a month and a half in Madrid.
Carlos became the ATP Race leader contender and added more points with the quarter-final run at Roland Garros. Alcaraz lost two ATP finals in Hamburg and Umag on clay and traveled to New York as one of the favorites. Carlos had a chance to become the youngest world no.
1 in ATP history with a deep run at the season's last Major. Nadal and Medvedev fell in the fourth round and left the door open for Alcaraz and Casper Ruud to pass him. Alcaraz and Ruud met in the US Open final, battling for the first Major title and the ATP throne.
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal will lead the ATP ranking on Monday.
Carlos scored 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, defending no points in the rest of the year and passing Casper Ruud, who made an early exit in Seoul.
Rafa did not play in the second part of 2021 and made a perfect return at the start of the new campaign. He claimed 20 consecutive wins in 2022 and lifted his first Australian Open crown in 13 years following a memorable comeback against Daniil Medvedev.
Rafa conquered the ATP 500 event in Acapulco over Medvedev and Cameron Norrie and headed to Indian Wells as the favorite. Nadal experienced a fractured rib and could not do much against Taylor Fritz in the title clash, losing for the first time this year and skipping Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
The Spaniard returned in Madrid and Rome and did not play his best tennis, struggling with a foot injury and gathering dark clouds over his Roland Garros preparation. As many times before, Nadal was a player to beat in Paris, receiving injections ahead of every match and toppling seven rivals to secure the 22nd Major title!
Nadal did not receive points for the Wimbledon semi-final, leaving London with an abdominal injury that jeopardized his hard-court summer swing. Rafa skipped Montreal and suffered an early loss in Cincinnati to Borna Coric.
With no form or matches, the Spaniard suffered the fourth-round defeat to Frances Tiafoe, losing a chance to become world no. 1 at 36.