Published on 3 Oct 2022 1:12 pm (UK Time)
Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz occupy the top two spots in the ATP rankings, marking the first time that two compatriots rank No. 1 and No. 2 since Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in 2000.
While most tennis fans admire Nadal’s endurance and his rise to the No. 2 position, Alcaraz’s spot raises some questions as he topped the ATP ranking with the lowest number of points.
Carlos Alcaraz’s triumphs
World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, who became the youngest No. 1 in ATP history (19 years and 4 months) after the US Open triumph, begins his fourth week atop the ATP rankings.
By contrast, he also set another record. The Spaniard topped the rankings with just 6740 points. After the rating system was changed in 2009 (in tournaments they began to give more points, in the final stages – twice), this is the lowest figure for the No. 1 player.
For comparison, here’s how many points for the top spot of the rankings were required for five current players to become No. 1:
Roger Federer – 9825;
Rafael Nadal – 11595;
Novak Djokovic – 13285;
Andy Murray – 11185;
Daniil Medvedev – 8615.
Alcaraz defeated Casper Ruud 6–4, 2–6, 7–6, 6–3 to win the first major tennis title at the 2022 US Open final. If you have a look at the rankings after US Open-2019, then three ATP players had more points than Alcaraz has now. After the US Open-2018 – two players had more points. After the US Open-2017 – three again.
New reality in ATP Rankings
In general, the trend of having fewer points to claim the first position is undeniable. Also, not so many titles are required. Take Rafael Nadal as an example. In 2005, 19-year-old Nadal won Roland Garros, four Masters, 11 titles and 79 matches in total. Yet still, in the ranking, he was inferior to Roger Federer.
Is it a new tennis reality? It is still early to answer it as a couple of non-tennis factors have influenced the ranking for the last 3 years, including the coronavirus pandemic, due to which winning points were frozen and then “thawed” in such a complex way. For example, the points received in 2019 were still valid in 2022.
Despite Djokovic’s best efforts, the pandemic and his refusal to get vaccinated resulted in him missing nearly half the 2022 season, including the Australian Open and US Open. It’s not that the Serbian player would have won and it is not that even having participated in these tournaments, he would now be No 1. However, his absence had a serious impact on the rankings.
Moreover, Wimbledon points have been nullified. Alcaraz still would be No. 1, even if points were played in London, with Wimbledon Champion Djokovic not even appearing in the top 3. Alcaraz’s ascendance to the top of the ranking is a continuation of the new reality that first appeared when Medvedev became No. 1 with just 6885 points.
Does this mean that Alcaraz is unworthy of No. 1? Of course not, this year he has won the US Open and two Masters. Overall, he is the tour leader in the number of titles, finals, matches won, and even victories over the top 10 players.
Alcaraz will make his ATP Finals debut this year after winning the under-21 equivalent Next Gen ATP Finals, becoming the first player to achieve it since Tsitsipas himself did so between 2018 and 2019. His compatriot, Rafael Nadal became the first player to qualify for the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals, which will be played from 13-20 November in Turin. Both, Casper Ruud and Stefanos Tsitsipas, also join the Spaniards to compete at the Pala Alpitour.