The six Spanish reigns of tennis

Carlos Alcaraz hugs Juan Carlos Ferrero, coach of Murcia and on his number 1 day in world tennis. / Kena Betancur (Afp)

Alcaraz joins the illustrious list made up of Carlos Moyá, Ferrero, Nadal, Arantxa Sánchez Vicario and Conchita Martínez

When John McEnroe handed him the
silver cup of the US Open, not only gave him his first Grand Slam, but also the title that accredits him as number one in the world. An award that places him as the youngest in history to achieve it, surpassing the mark of the Australian Lleyton Hewitt, who achieved it in November 2001, after winning the Masters Cup at the age of 20 years, eight months and 23 days. Alcaraz has achieved it with 19 years, 4 months and 7 days.

This Monday, the man from El Palmar leads the ATP ranking with 6,740 points, 890 more than Casper Ruud, his victim in the US Open final, and 930 more than Rafael Nadal, who fell in the quarterfinals against Frances Tiafoe. The distance is comfortable for Alcaraz and enough to place him as the best tennis player in the world and break a record that was once held by myths such as McEnroe himself (1980), Bjorn Borg (1977) and Marat Safin (2000).

Since the ATP ranking was introduced in 1973, with the Romanian Ilie Nastase as the first number one in the world, up to three Spaniards have climbed to the top of the ranking. The first of them was Carlos Moyá, on March 15, 1999. Nadal's now coach got it less than a year after winning his only Grand Slam, Roland Garros 1998, and just after reaching the final of the Miami Masters that lost to Mark Philippoussis. He replaced Pete Sampras at the helm of the ATP, but the American regained control just two weeks later. Moyá never returned to the top of the ranking and Spanish tennis had to wait until 2003 to return to another compatriot to lead this sport.

It was on September 8 when Juan Carlos Ferrero, after losing the US Open final against Andy Roddick in three sets, was proclaimed number one in the world. With a bittersweet tone, due to the missed opportunity to be the third Spaniard to succeed in New York, after Manolo Santana and Manolo Orantes, Ferrero held an honor that lasted eight weeks, until Roddick rose to first place and became the last number one before the Nadal-Roger Federer-Novak Djokovic dominance.

defense of the throne

Five years passed until Nadal's 'sorpasso' in the Swiss ranking. On August 18, 2008, after the Olympic Games and after Nadal won at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, the Spaniard finally ended three years of being in the shadow of Federer. He knocked him out of a first place he held for 237 consecutive weeks (all-time record) and held first place until July 5, 2009, when injuries prevented him from defending the title at Wimbledon and he lost the lead.

Above, Carlos Moyá and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. Below, on the left, Rafa Nadal poses with the trophy that she won in 2018 at Roland Garros. Below, to the right, Conchita Martínez. / Agencies

Nadal, who has held the top position in the ATP for 209 weeks (the sixth most in history), has placed first on seven more occasions in his career, the last one from November 2019 to February 2020.

To the male numbers one must be added Arantxa Sánchez Vicario and Garbiñe Muguruza, the only two Spaniards to lead the WTA, since Conchita Martínez had to settle for second place as the top. Sánchez Vicario reached number one for the first time on February 6, 1995 and held it for a total of eight weeks between February and June of that year. Muguruza's reign was shorter, only lasting four weeks between September and October 2017.

Alcaraz became the sixth Spaniard to do so at this US Open and the youngest of all. Now begins the task of defending him in the next events, with the European 'indoor' tour, that is, Basel and the Masters 1,000 in Paris and the final event of the Masters Cup, in which Alcaraz has his presence guaranteed for the first time. in his carrer.

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