Top 5 youngest ATP Slam champions
Join Tennishead for a look at the youngest men on the ATP tour ever to triumph at the highest level of the sport.
Across the Open Era, a number of teenage male stars have wowed crowds at each of the Majors. These are the five youngest ATP players ever to capture a Slam singles title
5. Rafael Nadal – Roland Garros 2005 – 19 years, 3 days
Entering the 2005 season, an 18-year-old Nadal already had four Slam main draw appearances to his name, and an ATP tour level title to boot, coming in Sopot, Poland in August 2004.
To kick off 2005, the Spaniard reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, followed later in the season by an appearance in the final of the Miami Masters, losing to world number one Roger Federer.
Nadal then won the Monte Carlo Masters, his first Masters 1000 title, defeating world number nine and 2004 Roland Garros runner-up Guillermo Coria. He repeated the feat at the Rome Masters weeks later, against the same opponent.
Nadal entered Roland Garros as the fourth seed, breezing into the fourth round without dropping a set.
After a four-set win to reach the quarter-finals, the 18-year-old dismissed compatriot David Ferrer in straight sets to face Federer in the semi-finals.
The teenager reversed his Miami misfortune, claiming a four-set victory over the Swiss to reach the final.
There he faced world number 37 Mariano Puerta. Despite surrendering the opening set in a tiebreak, Nadal rallied to win the next three sets 6-3, 6-1, 7-5, days after his 19th birthday.
So began a love affair with the French Slam, with Nadal having won 13 Roland Garros titles to date.
4. Bjorn Borg – Roland Garros 1974 – 18 years, 10 days
Staying in Paris, the 1974 tournament saw Borg playing his second Roland Garros and fifth Slam overall.
Borg had four titles to his name by this point, including one on clay in Rome just before the French Open.
Borg entered as the third seed, behind defending champion Ilie Nastase and two-time champion Jan Kodes.
The opening two rounds were best of three encounters, with Borg dropping a set in the first but not the second.
The Swede’s next three matches saw two five-set battles against Erik Van Dillen and Raul Ramirez in the fourth round and quarter-finals respectively.
Borg then dispatched American Harold Solomon, who had defeated Nastase in the previous round.
The 18-year-old faced 14th seed Manuel Orantes for the title, and things started better for the more experienced Spaniard.
Orantes claimed the first two sets 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) to put Borg on the brink of defeat.
But from there the 27-year-old was exhausted, winning just two of the remaining 20 games as Borg won the next three sets 6-0, 6-1, 6-1 to secure a first Slam title.
Borg would go on to claim six Roland Garros titles, his most prolific Slam, and an ATP record until Nadal bettered it in 2012.
3. Mats Wilander – Roland Garros 1982 – 17 years, 288 days
Paris really seems to favour youngsters, as our next entry also won his first Major in the French capital.
Another Swede, Wilander had won the boys’ singles at Roland Garros in 1981, with his senior Slam debut coming at Wimbledon that same year.
Wilander entered the 1982 tournament ranked 30th in the world and unseeded in the draw. He overcame the first three rounds for the loss of just one set before facing a 22-year-old Ivan Lendl, the world number three and second seed.
Despite twice falling a set behind, Wilander triumphed 6-2 in the fifth to face 1980 finalist Vitas Gerulaitis in the quarter-finals.
This time the Swede required one set fewer to dispatch his opponent, defeating the world number nine American 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Another top-10 opponent awaited him, number six Jose-Luis Clerc, and again Wilander won in four sets. Finally, Wilander took on 1977 champion and overall four-time Slam champion Guillermo Vilas for the title.
After falling in the first set 6-1, the 17-year-old rallied to claim the following three sets 7-6, 6-0, 6-4 for a maiden Slam title, the first of three at Roland Garros and seven in total. The title was also his first ATP career title.
2. Boris Becker – Wimbledon 1985 – 17 years, 227 days
Next comes another story of an unseeded player triumph. West Germany’s Becker entered The Championships 20th in the ATP rankings, off the back of his first career title at Queen’s Club in London.
It was Becker’s fourth Slam appearance and second at Wimbledon, having previously reached the third round.
He reached the third roudn again relatively easily, before back-to-back five-set battles against Joakim Nystrom and Tim Mayotte, both top-20 players.
Becker then overcame world number 26 Henri Leconte and world number six Anders Jarryd to reach the championship match.
There, it was Becker versus world number nine Kevin Curren, a Slam finalist at the 1984 Australian Open. After splitting the first two sets, Becker ran out the victor to secure a first of three Wimbledon titles, and six Slam in total.
1. Michael Chang – Roland Garros 1989 – 17 years, 110 days
The youngest men’s Slam champion is also the only one on this list to have just a single Major title to his name.
American Michael Chang was playing his fifth Slam main draw at Roland Garros 1989, having previously never been beyond the fourth round of a Major.
Seeded 15th, the teen cruised into the fourth round for the loss of a single set before taking on world number one Ivan Lendl.
Lendl was a three-time champion in Paris, and had won the Australian Open earlier in 1989. The Czech took it to Chang going up 6-4, 6-4 in the match to put the American on the edge of an exit.
But Chang responded to secure the next three sets, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, to complete the upset. He won his next two rounds in four sets each to take on world number three and three-time Slam champion Stefan Edberg.
After taking the lead with a 6-1 set, Chang fell behind two sets to one. Finally, Chang won the fourth and final sets 6-4, 6-2 to round of an incredible tournament for the youngster.
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