7 Key Matches In Alcaraz's Fast Path To 100 Wins
Carlos Alcaraz’s victory against Tallon Griekspoor on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells was his 100th tour-level win, and the Spaniard’s rapid progression to that milestone places him in prestigious company.
With his 100-32 tour-level record, the 19-year-old Alcaraz has earned second place on the list of fewest matches to 100 wins among players to reach No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings at some stage during their career. Only American great John McEnroe (100-31) reached his century faster than Alcaraz, who sits above Andre Agassi (100-35), Rafael Nadal (100-37), and Mats Wilander/Jimmy Connors (both 100-38) on the list.
To celebrate his achievement, ATPTour.com looks at some of Alcaraz’s most memorable victories from his journey to 100.
Win No. 1: ‘I Will Remember Rio Forever’
The 16-year-old Alcaraz announced himself on the ATP Tour in spectacular fashion at the 2020 Rio Open presented by Claro, where he battled past his countryman Albert Ramos-Vinolas for victory on his ATP Tour main-draw debut.
Then No. 406 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Alcaraz prevailed 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(2) in a first-round epic that finished at 3am local time in Rio de Janeiro. "I will remember Rio forever," he later said. "I am very happy to win my first ATP Tour match… There were quite difficult conditions, but if you have the right attitude, the conditions don't matter. You can achieve anything."
Win No. 16: A Fearless First Final
Alcaraz had only broken into the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings two months prior to the 2021 Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag. Yet the Spaniard had already firmly established himself as one of the top emerging talents on Tour, and his run to his maiden ATP Tour title at the clay-court ATP 250 felt like an almost inevitable milestone moment for a player destined to rise to the very top.
The 18-year-old Alcaraz delivered an emphatic championship match performance against former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet in Croatia to become the youngest tour-level champion since Kei Nishikori in 2008 at Delray Beach. Despite playing in his first tour-level final, Alcaraz showed few signs of nerves as he raced to a 6-2, 6-2 victory against the Frenchman, himself a former teen prodigy.
Win No. 22: Top 10 Takedown
Alcaraz’s third-round win against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 US Open earned the Spaniard a spot in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, but that was not the only significant aspect of the result. His 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2), 0-6, 7-6(5) triumph against the then-World No. 3 Tsitsipas was Alcaraz’s first against a Top 10 opponent and served as an announcement that the 18-year-old had already become a genuine threat to all on Tour.
Despite dropping the fourth set against Tsitsipas 0-6, Alcaraz regained his composure to clinch the deciding-set tie-break and become the youngest player to reach the fourth round at a major since 1992. He went one step further in New York, claiming another five-set win against Peter Gojowczyk to reach his maiden major quarter-final, where he was forced to retire due to a thigh issue when trailing Felix Auger-Aliassime by a set and a break.
Win No. 51: Master In Miami
"I have no words to describe how I feel right now," said Alcaraz after downing Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-4 to become the third-youngest ATP Masters 1000 titlist in history at the 2022 Miami Open presented by Itau. The biggest title of his fledgling career up to that point, the Spaniard dropped just one set all tournament to become the youngest champion in the 37-year history of the Miami event.
Alcaraz lost the opening three games of the championship match against Ruud but barely looked back from then on as he charged to a one-hour, 52-minute victory. With the win, Alcaraz rose to a then-career-high No. 11 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Win No. 59: Resisting Rafa
In 2021, Rafael Nadal had dropped just three games in a dominant second-round performance against Alcaraz at the Mutua Madrid Open. One year later, Alcaraz gave another demonstration of just how far he had come with a milestone victory in a much-anticipated rematch at the clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event.
A day after he turned 19, Alcaraz held off a trademark Nadal fightback for a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 quarter-final win, his first in three ATP Head2Head meetings against his legendary countryman. “It means a lot to me," said Alcaraz afterwards. "All the hard work that I put in every day pays off today. To beat Rafa, to beat the best player in history on clay, it means a lot to me.”
Win No. 60: Knocking Down A No. 1
Alcaraz’s path through the Madrid draw did not become any easier even after he defeated five-time champion Nadal. Another ATP Tour great, Novak Djokovic, stood in his way in the semi-finals in the Spanish capital, but the 19-year-old again outlasted a vastly more experienced opponent for a statement 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) win.
Alcaraz outhit Djokovic by 51 winners to 24 at the Caja Magic for his first victory against a reigning World No. 1 and his sixth straight Top 10 triumph. By notching maiden wins against two members of the fabled ‘Big 3’ on consecutive days and then downing Alexander Zverev to lift the trophy at the Caja Magica, the Spaniard spectacularly reaffirmed his ability to consistently match the very best on Tour.
Win No. 84: Big Moment In The Big Apple
Alcaraz battled past Marin Cilic, Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe in three consecutive five-set epics to reach his maiden Grand Slam final at the 2022 US Open. Yet his heavy workload in New York did not stop him producing a remarkably assured championship-match display against Casper Ruud.
In a winner-takes-all clash for the US Open crown and the No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Alcaraz expertly handled the pressure as he delivered an aggressive display to earn a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-3 win and his place in the history books. “It is something I have dreamt of since I was a kid,” he said afterwards. “To be No. 1 in the world, to be champion of a Grand Slam… It is something that is really special for me."
Alcaraz lifts his maiden Grand Slam trophy in New York. Photo Credit: Getty Images