Spanish teen phenomenon Carlos Alcaraz has claimed another honour in a history-making year after beating out Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to finish the season as the ATP Tour's highest-earning player. The 19-year-old pocketed more than A$15 million this season to edge out Wimbledon and ATP Finals champion Djokovic (A$14.8 million) and 22-time grand slam champion Nadal (A$14 million).
Alcaraz is the youngest male player to finish the year as the World No.1 in the history of the ATP's computerised rankings. His rise from World No.32 at the start of the season to top spot by the end of it, is also the largest single-season jump to No.1 in history.
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The Spaniard also joined compatriot and World No.2 Nadal as the first players from the same country to claim the top two spots at the close of a season in 26 years, with Americans Pete Sampras and Michael Chang achieving the same feat in 1996.
Last month, Alcaraz broke Aussie legend Lleyton Hewitt's long-standing record by becoming the youngest year-end No.1 in the almost 50-year history of the ATP Tour. The 19-year-old achieved the feat when Nadal was eliminated from the ATP Finals in Turin, following two consecutive straight-set losses.
Alcaraz's breakthrough year saw him start at No.32, before he stormed into the top-10 with a surprise run to the Miami Open title in early April, followed by a strong clay-court season that included titles in Barcelona and Madrid.
He arrived in New York in August for the US Open ranked fourth in the world; two weeks later he walked away with the trophy and the No.1 ranking. By winning his maiden grand slam title at the age of 19 years, four months and six days, he became the youngest World No.1 since rankings began in 1973 and the youngest US Open champion since American legend Pete Sampras in 1990.
The Spanish teen is also the first man in 20 years other than Nadal, Roger Federer, Djokovic or Andy Murray — since Andy Roddick in 2003 — to finish at No. 1. He unfortunately ended his season early after tearing an abdominal muscle while competing at the Paris Masters in November, before the ATP Finals got underway.
Rafael Nadal ends the season as World No.2
Nadal, 36, has also set a new mark as the oldest man to finish a year ranked first or second after also extending his own record of placing in the top 10 at the end of a year for an 18th consecutive season. The recently retired Federer is the only other man with that many top-10 finishes over the course of a career.
Nadal won the Australian Open and French Open in an extraordinary 2022 that saw him become claim the men's record for most grand slam victories of all time with 22 - one ahead of Djokovic and two ahead of Federer.
Norway's Casper Ruud finished the season ranked No. 3 in the ATP standings, followed by Stefanos Tsitsipas and Djokovic rounding out the top-five. Djokovic couldn’t play at the Australian Open or US Open because he is not vaccinated against Covid-19.
The Serb also didn't earn any rankings points for winning the Wimbledon title after the WTA and ATP stripped that tournament of points in response to the All England Club’s ban on players from Russia and Belarus.
Iga Swiatek finished the year with a substantial lead in the final WTA rankings, which were released last month. The Polish 21-year-old moved up from No. 2 in April to lead the list for the first time after Ash Barty's shock retirement in the wake of her Australian Open title.
Swiatek never relinquished her hold and enjoyed a prolific season of her own that included major titles at the French Open and US Open. Ons Jabeur - the runner-up at Wimbledon and the US Open - closed the season at a career-best No.2. America's Jessica Pegula, French star Caroline Garcia and Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka rounded out the women's top-five.
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