After a long exchange, showing an inappropriate maturity for his age, on April 17, 2005, Rafa Nadal, against Argentine Guillermo Coria, achieved his first Masters 1,000 tournament. On the land of Monte Carlo, which was dropped, the result of emotion, with 18 years and 318 days. 6-3, 6-1, 0-6 and 7-5 in three hours and nine minutes that are already history, that began it: the first bite of such an important trophy, an iconic one, moreover, on the surface of the one that would end up being absolute king. Symbol of a precocity that is fashionable in the world of sports. It is more and more common to see young talents reigning in the most important competitions. The word prodigy, without going any further, is being pronounced and written more than ever. The Balearic, the tennis player with the greatest in history, will always be one of his greatest representatives, but the list increases. And with more national joys.
In it, for example, Iga Swiatek fits. The 20-year-old Polish tennis player will inherit the number one ranking of Ashleig Barty, paradoxically retired at 25, with many honors. As champion of Miami, after beating Naomi Osaka in the final, and chaining the first three Masters 1,000 (also Doha and Indian Wells) of the season, being the first player in history to achieve it. Youth to power in the United States. Thanks to his contribution, but also to that of a Carlos Alcaraz who, before him, has the opportunity to achieve his first tournament in the aforementioned category, after the ATP 500 harvested in Rio de Janeiro.
Whatever happens, like Swiatek, Alcaraz has already snuck in the earliest talent rosters in Masters 1,000 history. The Polish tennis player is the youngest to achieve the Sunshine Double (Indian Wells and Miami) and the Spaniard is already the youngest quarter-finalist ever. At 18 years and 333 days, he is behind Michael Chang (18 and 157), Nadal himself, a finalist that same season at 18 years and 304 days in Miami, and Richard Gasquet (18 and 331). To prevail over Casper Ruud (world number 8 at 23, another prodigy) in the final, he would become the third youngest ever champion (the youngest in Miami, specifically), because the French tennis player could not in his final, in Hamburg, in 2005, against Roger Federer. Giving continuity to the names and data, Gasquet is the tennis player who least it took him a while to qualify for a tournament of the category (Monte Carlo 2002 with 15 years and 9 months) and Federer has the merit of being the oldest player to be crowned in them (Mimai 2019 with 37 years and 7 months). From one extreme to the other, just as impressive.
Youngest finishers in Masters 1,000
|1||Michael Chang (EE UU)||1990||Toronto||18 years, 157 days||Champion|
|2||Rafael Nadal (Spa)||2005||Miami||18 years, 304 days||Finalist|
|3||Rafael Nadal (Spa)||2005||Montecarlo||18 years, 318 days||Champion|
|4||Richard Gasquet (Fra)||2005||Hamburg||18 years, 331 days||Finalist|
|5||Carlos Alcaraz (Esp)||2022||Miami||18 years, 333 days||¿?|
In the Spanish race, then, Alcaraz has fallen behind Rafa Nadal in terms of speed to access a final, although for very little (29 days). Ahead, the challenge of doing the same in achieving his first Masters 1,000 of his, which he would achieve just two weeks behind the Balearic Islands (15 days). In 2005, Nadal began a path against Coria that has led him, to date, to harvest 36 tournaments in the category. The second player with more after Novak Djokovic (37) and the second youngest to achieve one, after the aforementioned Chang and ahead of Andrei Medvedev (19 years and 236 days), Djokovic himself (19 and 314) or Andre Agassi ( 19 and 331). Rafa also managed to defend his title, being, in addition, the only player who, before the age of 20, has achieved multiple Masters 1,000 titles. A path to follow, a path that you can start today.