Carlos Alcaraz’s meteoric rise has taken the tennis world by storm. The 18-year-old Spaniard recently became the youngest Miami Open presented by Itau champion in tournament history and this week in Barcelona the World No. 11 has the chance to crack the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time.
Impressive as that is, Alcaraz has also set a new milestone that has gone under the radar. When the reigning Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion earned his 50th tour-level win in the Miami semi-finals, he had just 20 losses. According to the Infosys ATP Win/Loss Index, that’s a faster clip than the 27 players to reach World No. 1.
“He obviously started playing young, but so did so many others and he’s played a lot of tournaments and matches already. The greatest thing about the stats and the computers is they don’t lie,” former World No. 4 Brad Gilbert told ATPTour.com. “Whether or not he gets to what some of these other lofty people who were on there is yet to be seen. But it’s an amazing start.”
Fast To Fifty
Ordered by total weeks spent at No. 1
Gilbert coached Andy Roddick, the former World No. 1 who came closest to Alcaraz’s mark at 50 wins (50-22). Five former World No. 1s — Jimmy Connors, Juan Carlos Ferrero (Alcaraz’s coach), John McEnroe, Ilie Nastase and John Newcombe — were 50-23. Newcombe also played in pre-Open Era matches, for which the ATP does not have complete records.
But such a quick start is not a guarantee Alcaraz will reach World No. 1, and not all players who have climbed to the top have enjoyed a good start to their tour-level career. Roger Federer was 50-47, yet he has held World No. 1 longer than anyone in history except Novak Djokovic.
“Fed played a lot at a young age, but the thing was he improved his serve, he improved his backhand. He did things while he was still playing [at tour-level] as opposed to playing Challengers, so he took some losses,” Gilbert said. “But the big thing about him is he made big leaps. Sometimes you get too good at a young age and you don’t make those changes in your game because you’re winning so much.”
That is not to say Alcaraz has any particular holes in his game, but the road is just beginning for the Spaniard. Now 51-21 after winning the Miami title and losing in his opener at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, he will look to maintain his good form at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell in front of his home fans.
“It’ll be fun to watch the next few years,” Gilbert said. “But the greatness of tennis is that nothing is guaranteed.”