Carlos Alcaraz will become the youngest number at the end of the year. 1 in men’s tennis history after Rafael Nadal was eliminated from the ATP Finals.
At 19 years and 214 days, US Open champion Alcaraz surpasses Lleyton Hewitt’s record for finishing the year as world no. 1 of 20 years and 275 days in 2001.
Alcaraz will miss this year’s ATP Finals in Turin, Italy as he continues to recover from an abdominal injury suffered at the Paris Masters earlier this month, but compatriot Nadal’s early exit from the tournament it means he still has reason to celebrate.
The teenager has enjoyed a sensational year, winning five ATP titles and becoming the youngest no. 1 in men’s tennis when he won his first Grand Slam title in New York.
Nadal could have overtaken Alcaraz at the top of the world rankings with victory in Turin this week, but after losing 6-3, 6-4 to Felix Auger-Aliassime and Casper Ruud on Tuesday he won a set against Taylor Fritz, the 36 years -old -old withdrew from the tournament.
Nadal has struggled for form since the US Open in September and fell against Auger-Aliassime in his fourth consecutive feat since 2009.
After a straight sets loss to Taylor Fritz in Turin earlier this week and losses to Tommy Paul at the Paris Masters and Frances Tiafoe at the US Open.
“I think I haven’t forgotten how to play tennis, how to be strong enough mentally,” Nadal told reporters on Tuesday.
“I just need to get all those positive feelings back and all that confidence and all that strong mindset that I need to be at the level that I want to be at.
“I don’t know if I’ll get to that level again. But I have no doubt about it [about] it’s me [am] will die for it.”
Nadal had chances to take the lead against Auger-Aliassime, but failed to convert four breaks in the first set. The Canadian took a 5-3 lead when he broke Nadal’s serve and closed out the set soon after to take an early lead.
In the second set, Auger-Aliassime broke Nadal for 1-1, then consolidated her lead the next game with three straight aces.
The world doesn’t. 6 hit 15 aces throughout the match and proceeded to serve for the win in nearly two hours.
It means Auger-Aliassime remains in contention to progress beyond the group stage at the ATP Finals despite losing to Ruud in his opening match on Sunday.