Being at the top of the world tennis rankings in the ATP rankings is a huge achievement. This is the dream of every tennis player at the beginning of his career. However, not every player can achieve the desired goal through exhausting training and a long season. Young tennis players who later have a chance to become great do not appear every year, and even less often, young players manage to climb to the top of the world rankings. In this article, we take a look at 5 of the youngest players in tennis history who at some point climbed to the first position in the ATP rankings.
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Andy Roddick (21 years and 65 days)
Former US Open champion Andy Roddick began playing professional tennis in 2000 at the age of 18. He won his only Grand Slam in 2003, defeating Juan Carlos Ferrero in the final of the US Open. He climbed to number one in the rankings in November 2003. Roddick managed to stay on the podium for 13 weeks, until February 2004.
It so happened that this was the only time when an American tennis player managed to take first place, as the time of Roger Federer’s dominance began later. Roddick also reached the Wimbledon final three times in 2004, 2005 and 2009, where he lost to world No. 1 Federer each time.
John McEnroe (21 years and 16 days)
The American tennis player improved Bjorn Borg’s record in early 1980. The tennis player was able to reach the top of the ATP rankings after his first Grand Slam victory at the US Open in 1979. However, McEnroe managed to hold on to the first position for much less than Andy Roddick – only 3 months. However, throughout the next decade, John fought for the first line with Lendl, Connors and Borg. During his long career, McEnroe climbed to the 1st place in the world rankings as many as 14 times and stayed on the podium for a total of 170 weeks.
Johnny McEnroe played his first US Open in 1977 and his last in 1992. He won four championships in total, three in a row from 1979 to 1981 and another in 1984, and also has 3 wins at Wimbledon. This athlete will forever remain in the memory of many fans as one of the brightest and most explosive American players.
Marat Safin (20 years and 298 days)
The Russian managed to climb to first place and displace McEnroe just a few weeks after winning the US Open. He was officially declared world number one on November 20, 2000 after defeating Australian Mark Philippoussis in the final of the Paris Masters. Marat Safin also won the Australian Open in 2005.
The Russian tennis player managed to stay on the first line of the world ranking (concurrently as the youngest player to reach this title) for only 4 weeks, when he was replaced by Gustavo Kuerten to the second line. However, during his career, Safin rose to the leading position twice more and spent a total of 9 weeks in first place.
Lleyton Hewitt (20 years and 268 days)
This is a truly legendary player who for over 30 years held the title of the youngest tennis player who has ever managed to take 1st place in the ATP world rankings. Hewitt first climbed to number one after winning the US Open in September 2001 and remained in the lead until April 2003. Lleyton also won Wimbledon in 2002 and spent a total of 80 weeks at number one.
Carlos Alcaraz (19 years and 129 days)
Alcaraz was able to become the youngest tennis player to take 1st place in the ATP rankings. His rise to the podium comes from winning the 2022 US Open. Alcaras and Ruud had chances to become the first number, but it was the Spaniard who won. Alcaraz started the year with 32nd place in the ranking, but then he was able to win tournaments such as the Rio Open, Miami Open, Barcelona Open and Madrid Open and made it to the top ten. He also finished second several times before winning the US Open, climbing to number one and setting another record in his young career.
In addition, Carlos Alcaraz’s win at Indian Wells saw him climb to the top of the ATP rankings for the second time and become the youngest player in history to reclaim first place the fastest. At just 19 years and 10 months old, Alcaraz re-emerged into the top spot after defeating Daniil Medvedev in straight sets in the Indian Wells final. The latest youngest player to achieve this feat was Marat Safin, who regained his lead at age 21 over two decades ago.
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