It’s the young people who have reached the top very early in their career.
Tennis is undoubtedly one of the most hardcore sports to play. To be successful, you must be at your best in all areas. With tournaments running all year round and a new competitor emerging every game, you should always be ready for a challenge. Your fitness, skills, stamina and sacrifices are all put to the test. Also, with over 1,000 or so players participating in the tours, the chance to reach the top 100 is in high demand.
However, there have been some distinguished players who have broken that mould. Not only did they enter the top 100, but they also reached the absolute top of the food chain. And that too at a very young age. These players showed their maturity and consistency that catapulted them to stardom.
Today we’re going to take a look at these young megastars. The champions reached their peak in a short time to become the youngest or one of the youngest world No. 1s.
Andy Roddick (21 years and 65 days)
Andy Roddick had a special year in 2003. Nebraskan reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open and Wimbledon that year. However, his most successful career moment was definitely recorded for the year-end Slam.
As the 21-year-old beat third seed Juan Carlos Ferrero in straight sets to claim his first and only Grand Slam singles title. The victory came rather easily in three sets (6-3, 7-6, 6-3). In addition to his Grand Slam flair, Andy has also won two Masters Series titles in Canada and Cincinnati. A-Rod’s performance against his contemporaries is also worth mentioning.
He beat David Nalbandian, Guillermo Coria, Carlos Moya and Roger Federer among others. The victory propelled Nebraskan to become one of the youngest world No. 1s of all time. Roddick remained at the top for 13 weeks until February 2004 before being replaced by Roger Federer.
John McEnroe (21 years and 16 days)
The inimitable John McEnroe is next on that list. Tennis’ bad boy has set a world record by becoming the world’s youngest number one. John’s first Grand Slam win at the US Open in 1979 helped him a lot.
Mac rose to the pinnacle of singles tennis in March 1980. However, he could not hold his position for long. The reign lasted only three weeks. Despite this, McEnroe managed to complete his career comprising a total of 170 weeks as world number one. Thanks to him taking first place 14 times.
Marat Safin (20 years and 298 days)
The one and only Russian on this elite list. Safin broke McEnroe’s record by reaching No. 1 on November 20, 2000. And that, too, is style. The Moscow native defeated former four-time US Open champion Pete Sampras in straight sets. The Russian has clearly shown he’s not intimidated by his legendary opponent.
Safin’s groundstrokes and serves were on point, putting pressure on the tennis great. Pete held his game but that was pretty much negating the inevitable as Marat looked relentless. A cross volley from Marat finally concluded the match. Safin claimed his first and only US Open singles trophy with the win.
The Russian Olympic Committee official held the top spot for nine weeks. Moreover, he also won the Masters series in Toronto, Canada that year.
Lleyton Hewitt (20 years and 268 days)
Lleyton Hewitt is probably best known as a player who made the ‘upside down cap’ stylish. However, the Australian was also a very talented player. In the 2000s, he established himself as a tennis world champion. His rivalry with Andy Roddick and Roger Federer was remarkable.
Although Lleyton could not win more than two Grand Slams, his resilience and courage were visible to all. Hewitt really showed his quality as a player in 2001. He won the Medibank International, Queen’s Club and Rosmalen Grass Court Championships. The South Australian also won the Tokyo Open.
Despite this, it would undoubtedly be his victory at the US Open that year that would become the talking point of his career. Hewitt literally decimated Pete Sampras in the final. Except for the first set, Sampras couldn’t hold much ground and quickly succumbed to Lleyton’s onslaught. The final score – (7-6.6-1.6-1)
Carlos Alcaraz (19 years and 129 days)
Newest to the list of youngest world No. 1s, Carlos Alcaraz has risen from the shadow of a prospect and become a true Grand Slam champion in 2022. Alcaraz has always had promise with his all-around style of play that matched his athleticism. By the time he played the 2022 US Open, Alcaraz had already brought consistency to his game.
He reached the third round, the quarter-finals and the fourth round at the first three Grand Slams of the year. He also won the Madrid Open and the Miami Open. So it seemed like the stars had clearly aligned for him. And that is clearly the case, as Alcaraz managed to win his first Grand Slam at the US Open. He beat Casper Ruud in four sets (6-4, 2-6, 7-6, 6-3) to seal the deal.