Rafael Nadal Indian Wells Masters 2022

Top 10 youngest ATP number one’s

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Discover the youngest male players to make it to the pinnacle of the ATP singles rankings including five American’s and Rafa Nadal only just making the list at no.9. 

10. Marcelo Rios (22 years and 94 days)

On the 30th March 1998, the Chilean became the first Latin American player to reach the top of spot of the ATP singles rankings. He began his charge towards the number one spot by reaching the final of the Australian Open that year losing to Petr Korda in straight sets.

Later that same year he became only the third man in ATP history to complete the Sunshine Double. Clinching the Miami Open title, where he beat Andre Agassi in straight sets in the final, meant that he was the official new World number one.  Ríos is also the only man in the Open Era to have reached the ATP top spot without ever winning a Grand Slam singles tournament.

Rios was only top of the rankings for six weeks over two separate occasions in 1998, before being replaced by Pete Sampras on both occasions.



9. Rafael Nadal (22 years and 76 days) 

Nadal eventually claimed his number one birth on the 18th August 2008, after having been at number two for 160 consecutive weeks.

By the time Nadal became ranked number one in the world, he had already won five Grand Slam titles and 12 Masters 1000 titles. After winning one of the all-time classics to claim his first Wimbledon title in in 2008 against Federer, the number one spot was edging towards Nadal. The next month, thanks to Nadal reaching the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Open, the rankings had a new leader after Federer’s 237 consecutive weeks in pole position.

Since then, Nadal has held the number one spot on eight separate occasions racking up 209 weeks as World number one.



8. Jimmy Connors (21 years and 330 days)

On the 29th July 1974 the American reached the top of the rankings for the first time, yet this was unsurprising.

In the calendar year of 1974, he only lost two matches and became the first man to win three majors (Wimbledon, Australian and US Open) in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.

He held the number one spot for a total of 160 weeks from 1974, before losing it to Björn Borg in 1977. Overall he stayed at the top of the ATP rankings for a total of 268 weeks throughout his career.

He also was the ATP year ending number one an outstanding five years in a row from 1974 to 1978.



7. Pete Sampras (21 years and 243 days)

On the 12th April 1993, Sampras became the 11th different World number one in ATP history.

‘Pistol Pete’ burst onto the scene when he claimed his first ATP win at only 16 years of age and then became the youngest ever US Open Champion in history at the age of 19 years and one month.

Wins in Miami and in Tokyo in 1993, meant the American became ATP World number one for the first time. Throughout his career he was in ATP’s pole position on 11 different occasions with 286 weeks, in total, at the summit of the ATP rankings.



6. Jim Courier (21 years and 177 days)

Courier’s rise to the top of the ATP rankings saw him clinching wins in both Miami and Indian Wells to complete the Sunshine double in 1991. Later that year, at the age of 21 he became Roland Garros Champion – his first ever Grand Slam title. Also in 1991, Courier finished runner-up at the US Open losing to Stefan Edberg in straight sets.

Finally, on the 10th February 1992, Courier became World number one after winning his second Major, the 1992 Australian Open. He is the youngest man ever to reach the finals at all four Slams – aged only 23.

Courier only held the position for six weeks in his first stint as World number one, however he would reach that position again on four different occasions for a total of 58 weeks.



5. Björn Borg (21 years and 78 days)

On the 23rd August 1977 the Swede reached pole position in the ATP rankings. He had already won four Grand Slams (two French Open and two Wimbledon titles) before he reached the top spot. He continued this good form following his rise to the top, winning an additional four Roland Garros titles and three SW19 crowns.

The ‘Ice man’ was World number one on six different occasions throughout his relatively short career staying 109 weeks at the top of the ATP rankings.



4. Andy Roddick (21 years and 65 days)

On the 3rd November 2003, Roddick became the World number one for the very first and only time in his career, overtaking Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero at the top of the rankings.

In the summer of 2003, Roddick’s performances shone as he beat Federer on his way to his first ATP 1000 Masters title in Montreal and fourth title of the year. Only a couple of weeks later, he was the Cincinnati Masters Champion defeating fellow American Mardy Fish in the final.

But the thrilling run did not stop there. He completed the North-American hard-court summer sweep by winning the US Open – his one and only career Major win.

In October 2003, after a semi-final run at the Paris Masters, Roddick confirmed that he was to be the new World number one. A position which he held onto for 13 weeks, before being dislodged by Federer on the 2nd February 2004.



3. John McEnroe (21 years and 16 days)

On the 3rd March 1980 McEnroe officially became the fifth ATP World number one taking over from long-time rival Björn Borg.

Following ‘Johnny Mac’s’ first ever Grand Slam win in 1979 at the US Open, he quickly rose to top spot in the rankings.

His first stint in pole position only lasted three weeks, which set a tone for the rest of his career. Over the next 5 years he was the World number one on a record 14 different occasions, continuously jostling over the position with rivals Ivan Lendl, Borg and Connors.

In total, he spent 170 weeks as the ATP number one, with 58 weeks being his longest period of time at the summit. Between 1979 and 1984, he was ranked at number one in doubles too for a mammoth 269 weeks.



2. Marat Safin (20 years and 298 days)

The Russian had a remarkable rise to the ATP top spot. He was officially declared as the World number one on the 20th November 2000, following a straight shoot out for the top ranking in the Paris Masters final against Australian Mark Philippoussis.

However, on the 28th February of the same year, Safin had been ranked at number 38 in the world. He is the only man to be ranked outside the top 35 and reach the number one ranking in the same season.

In August, he won his first Masters 1000 title in Toronto and soon followed this up by winning his first ever Grand Slam defeating Pete Sampras in the final at Flushing Meadows.

The 2005 Australian Open Champion in total only held the number one ranking for 9 weeks.



  • Lleyton Hewitt (20 years and 268 days)

Almost a year to the day that Safin broke the record for the youngest ever ATP singles number one, Australian Lleyton Hewitt broke it again.

It was in the 2001 ATP finals where Hewitt was officially crowned as World number one. In the round-robin group stage, Hewitt had already beaten third seed Andre Agassi and seventh seed Sebastien Grosjean. However it was the last match of the group stage which determined his fate and if he was to become the  ATP’s most hunted man.

The eventual 2001 ATP finals champion beat sixth seed Pat Rafter in the final group match overtaking from Gustavo Kuerten as the new World number one. A position which he held for a total of 80 weeks over two different occasions.



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Rafael Nadal Indian Wells Masters 2022
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