How Alcaraz's early rise compares to the 'big three'

Rising Spanish player will bid to become only eighth teenager to win a men’s Grand Slam at French Open

AFP May 20, 2022


Carlos Alcaraz will bid to become only the eighth teenager to win a men's Grand Slam title at the French Open, which starts on Sunday.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look at how the Spanish sensation's early achievements rank compared to those of the 'big three' of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, and Novak Djokovic early in their careers: 

-- Alcaraz had been 18 for less than three months when he lifted his first ATP trophy in Umag, Croatia last year, but was not quite as quick to achieve the feat as Nadal.

The 21-time Grand Slam champion won the first of his 91 titles when he was eight days younger, on clay in Poland in 2004.

Federer and Djokovic were both 19 when they got their tallies underway in 2001 and 2006 respectively, although the Swiss great had to wait for a year after reaching his maiden final.

-- Alcaraz was 18 years and 333 days old when he truly announced himself as a major force in the sport by winning the Miami Open last month, beating Casper Ruud in the final.

But Nadal was two weeks younger when he lifted his first Masters crown in Monte Carlo in 2005.

Federer was only three months from turning 21 when he won in Hamburg in 2002, while Djokovic was 19 when he emerged victorious in Miami five years later. The Serb has gone on to win a record 38 Masters titles.

-- Nadal was a remarkable 16 and 10 months when he broke into the top 100 of the ATP rankings in April 2003.

Alcaraz had to wait until three weeks after his 18th birthday to achieve the feat, but was younger, by a matter of days, than Federer and Djokovic when they made their breakthroughs.

-- Alcaraz climbed into the top 10 for the first time exactly 17 years to the day after Nadal, on April 25, the day after winning the Barcelona Open.

That was 10 days before his 19th birthday, again just behind the pace set by Nadal, who was 18, 10 months and 22 days old.

Djokovic reached the top 10 when he was 19, while Federer had to wait until less than three months before turning 21.

-- All four players were 17 when they first appeared in a Grand Slam.

Alcaraz's debut at the highest level came at last year's Australian Open. Federer's was at the 1999 French Open, Nadal's came at Wimbledon in 2003 and Djokovic's in the 2005 Australian Open.

-- Alcaraz is comfortably the fastest to reach this milestone. It took the current world number six just 70 matches, beating Djokovic's 79.

Nadal needed 81 matches to bring up his half-century, while Federer reached the mark in his 97th match.

-- Nadal had been 19 for only two days when he won the first of his 13 French Open titles in 2005 and Alcaraz can no longer do better than his compatriot.

His best effort so far was reaching the US Open quarter-finals aged 18 last year, breaking the record for that tournament in the Open era.

Djokovic was 20 years and eight months when he defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 2008 Australian Open final, while Federer was almost 22 when he took the honours at the 2003 Wimbledon.

Like Nadal at Roland Garros, Djokovic and Federer have both gone on to enjoy those events the most. The current world number one has won nine Australian Opens and Federer has won eight Wimbledons.


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