Alcaraz Makes History With A Return To The Top
Editor's note: This story was translated from ATPTour.com/es
Conventional wisdom in professional sport tells us that getting to the top is hard, but staying there is even harder. Carlos Alcaraz knows this as well as anyone, but he demonstrated his maturity with a victorious response to the pressure of the 2023 BNP Paribas Open, with his Indian Wells title run making him the youngest tennis player in history to return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
At just 19 years and 10 months of age, the Spaniard is back at the pinnacle of the sport, a position he first reached in September by claiming his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open. Now, having picked up the third ATP Masters 1000 title of his career in Indian Wells, the smile is back on the face of the Murcia native after he reclaimed the throne on the men’s tour, something no other player has ever managed before the age of 21.
Alcaraz's success in California allowed him to better the achievement of Marat Safin more than 20 years ago, as he continues to break age-old records with astonishing ease. On the list of all players to have enjoyed multiple tenures as World No. 1 since the Pepperstone ATP Rankings began in August 1973 — a list replete with greats of the game, all hungry to call themselves No. 1 — the player from El Palmar now sits proudly above the rest as its youngest member.
Having already become the youngest man ever to rise to World No. 1 (19 years, 4 months) and to close out a season at the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings (19 years, 7 months), Alcaraz has added yet another record to his growing list — this time, demonstrating his ability to bounce back.
Players who have returned to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings
|Carlos Alcaraz||19 years, 10 months|
|Marat Safin||21 years, 0 months|
|Jim Courier||21 years, 4 months|
|John McEnroe||21 years, 6 months|
|Pete Sampras||22 years, 1 months|
|Lleyton Hewitt||22 years, 3 months|
|Marcelo Ríos||22 years, 8 months|
|Björn Borg||22 years, 10 months|
|Ivan Lendl||23 years, 7 months|
|Boris Becker||23 years, 8 months|
|Rafael Nadal||24 years, 0 months|
|Gustavo Kuerten||24 years, 5 months|
|Jimmy Connors||24 years, 11 months|
|Stefan Edberg||25 years, 1 months|
|Novak Djokovic||25 years, 6 months|
|Andre Agassi||25 years, 9 months|
|Daniil Medvedev||26 years, 4 months|
|Roger Federer||27 years, 11 months|
|Thomas Muster||28 years, 5 months|
Alcaraz has written another chapter in the history of tennis with his quick comeback. But Juan Carlos Ferrero’s pupil will have to keep his foot on the gas in the Miami Open presented by Itau, where he is the defending champion. At the venue where he earned his first ATP Masters 1000 title one year ago, Alcaraz will have to mount a successful title defence in order to maintain his status atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
The magnitude of Alcaraz's achievement becomes clear when seen in context: Nine of the 28 players to have been No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings were unable to return to the top of the list once they had been dethroned. Ilie Nastase, John Newcombe, Mats Wilander, Carlos Moya, Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Patrick Rafter, Ferrero, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray all had but one spell at the pinnacle of men’s professional tennis.
Now, Alcaraz will be hoping to stay there. The Spaniard is the 16th player in the history of men’s tennis to have surpassed 20 weeks as the singles World No. 1. Only three active players — Murray (41), Rafael Nadal (209) and Novak Djokovic (380) – have spent longer at the top than Alcaraz, whose astonishing career is showing no signs of slowing down.