Carlos Alcaraz is set to become the youngest year-end No. 1 in the history of men’s tennis after Rafael Nadal was knocked out of the ATP Finals.
Alcaraz, the US Open champion, surpasses Lleyton Hewitt’s record of finishing the year as the world No. 1 at 19 years and 21 days. 1 in 2001, aged 20 years and 257 days.
Alcaraz will miss this year’s ATP Finals, in Turin, Italy, as he continues to recover from an abdominal injury sustained at Paris Masters earlier in the month. However, compatriot Nadal’s premature exit from the tournament means that he still has reason to celebrate.
The youngster has had a phenomenal year. He won five ATP titles and became the youngest No. He was the No. 1 male tennis player in New York when he won his first grand Slam title.
Nadal had the potential to leapfrog Alcaraz at the top with his victory in Turin this week, but after losing 6-3 6-4 against Felix Auger -Aliassime on Tuesday, and Casper Ruud winning a set against Taylor Fritz on Tuesday, the 36-year-old bowed out.
Nadal has been struggling for form since September’s US Open. His fourth consecutive win against Auger-Aliassime was his third since 2009.
This follows a straight-sets defeat to Taylor Fritz in Turin, earlier this week, and defeats against Tommy Paul and Frances Tiafoe during the US Open.
Nadal said Tuesday that he didn’t believe he forgot how to play tennis or how to be mentally strong enough.
“I need to regain all the positive feelings, all the confidence, and all the strong mentality that I need to reach my goals.
“I don’t know if it will happen again. However, I do know that I will die for it.
Nadal had several chances to lead Auger-Aliassime but couldn’t convert four break points in set one. He broke Nadal’s serve to move 5-3 ahead and won the set quickly for an early lead.
Auger-Aliassime defeated Nadal at 1-1 in the second set. He then consolidated his advantage with three consecutive aces.
The world No. 6 hit 15 aces during the match and served out the win in just over two hours.
This means Auger-Aliassime will still be in contention to advance beyond the group stages of the ATP Finals despite his loss to Ruud on Sunday.