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‘New Nadal’ ticks off a 17-year first Rafa would be proud of

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Most Grand Slams, Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz is fastly becoming Spain’s new star, sealing a slice of history dating back to a teenaged Rafa.

After winning the Barcelona Open, ironically on the court named after Rafael Nadal, 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest man to break into the ATP top 10 since countryman Nadal 17 years ago.

At 18 years, 11 months and 20 days old, Alcaraz is the ninth-youngest man to reach the top 10 since the rankings began in 1973. 

Alcaraz’s idol Nadal was a month younger when he climbed into the top 10 on April 25, 2005, also after a title on Barcelona’s clay.

The youngest man to reach the top 10 on the ATP Tour was Aaron Krickstein, who was 11 days past his 17th birthday when he made his debut in the top 10 in August 1984. 

Alcaraz won the fourth title of his young career by beating eighth seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2 in the Barcelona Open final.

Embed from Getty Images

Remarkably, the victory for Alcaraz came just hours after winning a tough semi-final against Aussie star Alex de Minaur that had been postponed due to rain.

The win at the Barcelona Open continues an incredible season for Alcaraz after capturing titles in Miami and Rio de Janeiro.

Following the win, Alcaraz said he had exceeded his own expectations and it was a dream come true to win the tournament.

“I did not think I would reach this stage at 18 years old,” Alcaraz told a news conference at a junior event. 

“I have been fighting for this since I was a child. 

“I work every day, work hard to be here to have chance to get titles to beat the top players in the world, but not at this age.”

Alcaraz attempted to play down the comparisons to Nadal.

“It is just a coincidence that it’s the same with Rafa.”

Nadal, currently sidelined with a rib injury, was quick to praise his young protégé on social media.

‘Congratulations to Carlos for the title in Barcelona’, Nadal tweeted in Spanish.

Alcaraz’s rise to number nine in the world continues an impressive 12 months for the Spaniard after he was ranked as low as 133 in April 2021.

Next up for Alcaraz will be the Madrid Open, followed by Roland Garros.

After making the third round at the French last year, Alcaraz will be looking to progress deep in the tournament when it begins on May 22.

Joel Martelli
Joel Martelli
The only thing that Joel Martelli loves more than football (seriously, we wouldn't be surprised if he has a Wollongong Wolves tattoo) is writing about all things sports. With a Bachelor of Communications and Media Studies Degree specialising in Journalism, he spends his days uncovering breaking athlete news stories and diving deep into play-by-play strategies. We're glad that he's put his passion to the pages of Only Sports as one of our dedicated sports writers.

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