Top 10 youngest ATP Tour title winners: Andy Murray celebrating with a kiss and Lleyton Hewitt quitting school
Teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz joined the elite top 10 youngest ATP Tour title winners list when he won the Croatia Open in Umag on Sunday. But where exactly does he feature on the list and who else makes the roll of honour?
Alcaraz beat veteran Richard Gasquet on the red dirt in Croatia on Sunday to lift his maiden ATP Tour title and he slots in at No 5 on the Top 10 youngest ATP Tour title winners list.
For the record, the list is just ATP Tour title winners with records starting in 1990 when the Tour was launched.
American Aaron Krickstein, who was 16 years, two months and 8 days when he won in Tel Aviv in 1983, remains the youngest title winner in men’s tennis. It also means the likes of Boris Becker, Andre Agassi, Pat Cash and Bjorn Borg, to name a few, are not included.
Top 10 youngest ATP Tour title winners (from 1990 onwards and featuring only players’ first title win)
10. Andy Murray – 18 years, 8 months, 29 days – San Jose 2006
Future world No 1 Andy Murray made his ATP Tour title breakthrough at the SAP Open in February 2006, beating former world No 1s Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt to lift the title.
In the last four he defeated top seed Roddick 7-5, 7-5 before claiming a 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) victory over third seed Hewitt in the showpiece match.
His walked away with a (£30,000) winner’s cheque and moved into the top 50 for the first time.
“This week has been perfect for me. I played pretty solidly in all my matches, apart from a set-and-a-half against Robin Soderling,” the Scot said.
“But I managed to come through that and this has been the best week of my life – it can’t get much better.”
He celebrated by heading into the crowd to kiss his girlfriend and future wife Kim Sears.
“It is the first time she has come to a tournament with me, and maybe I have been a little more relaxed on court!” he joked.
“I played really well and hopefully she will come to a few more tournaments.”
9. Andy Roddick – 18 years, 7 months, 24 days – Atlanta 2001
Playing in his first-ever ATP clay tournament in April 2001, world No 89 Andy Roddick went all the way in Atlanta, beating second seed Todd Martin in the second round before seeing off Xavier Malisse from Belgium 6-2, 6-4 in the final.
“I can’t even explain it. It’s great,” Roddick said. “This is, consistently, the best I have played. I played five good matches here. We’ll see how far I can go.”
He certainly went far as he went on to win the 2003 US Open while he also finished runner-up at three other Grand Slams.
8. Thomas Enqvist – 18 years, 6 months, 30 days – Bolzano 1992
Future Australian Open finalist Thomas Enqvist won his maiden title in October 1992 in Italy when he defeated fifth-seeded Frenchman Arnaud Boetsch 6–1, 1–6, 7–6 (9–7) in the final. He also beat sixth seed Stefano Pescosolido, third seed Andrey Medvedev and second seed Andrey Cherkasov en route to the final.
The Swede went on to win another 18 ATP Tour titles with last in Marseille in 2002.
7. Pete Sampras – 18 years, 6 months, 7 days – Philadelphia 1990
Having turned professional in 1988, Pete Sampras won the first of his 64 ATP Tour titles at the US Pro Indoor in February 1990.
Seeded 13th, the 18-year-old beat fellow American Andre Agassi in the third round, fifth seed Tim Mayotte in the quarter-final and Australian qualifier Mark Kratzmann in the semi-final before seeing off seventh seed Andres Gomez 7-6 (7-4), 7-5, 6-2 in the final.
Gomez was certainly impressed by the young Sampras as he said: “Of all the young Americans, even the likes of Agassi and [Michael] Chang, I’d have to say he is the best one because his all-round game is so strong.”
6. Michael Chang – 18 years, 5 months, 1 day – Canada Masters 1990
The American, of course, is the youngest male player to win a Grand Slam as he won the 1994 French Open at 17 days, 3 months and 7 days, but that was before the ATP (World) Tour was launched in 1990. In fact, Chang won four titles before the formation of the ATP Tour.
It is his Canada Masters title in July 1990 that gets the nod for this list.
Seeded seventh, Chang beat an impressive cast as top seed Andre Agassi was dismissed 4-6, 7-5, 7-5 in the quarter-final and fifth seed Pete Sampras was beaten 3-6, 7-6, 7-5 in the semi-final before fourth seed Jay Berger was handed a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 loss in the final.
5. Carlos Alcaraz – 18 years, 2 months, 20 days – Umag 2021
The Spaniard became the youngest player in 12 years to win an ATP Tour title when he beat 35-year-old Richard Gasquet from France in the Croatia Open final.
“It’s amazing. I have a lot of emotions. I’m really, really happy with this victory, this win, my first ATP [title],” Alcaraz said. “I’m going to enjoy this moment a lot.”
4. Rafael Nadal – 18 years, 2 months, 6 days – Sopot 2004
When you are seeded sixth at a tournament at the age of 18 then you must be something special and Rafael Nadal proved just how special he was as he won his maiden title.
Future 20-time Grand Slam winner Nadal beat the likes of Franco Squillari from Argentina and Spain’s Felix Mantilla on the way to the final.
In the showpiece match he defeated Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-4 to lift his maiden title.
3. Kei Nishikori – 18 years, 1 month, 13 days – Delray Beach 2008
“I still can’t believe it that I beat James Blake,” Nishikori said after stunning top seed James Blake 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the International Tennis Championships final. “I’ve only seen him on TV. This is my best tournament ever.”
He started the tournament as the world No 244 and started his campaign by beating fifth seed Florian Mayer in the first set while third seed Sam Querrey was beaten in the semi-final.
The Japanese star jumped to No 122 in the ATP Rankings after his win while six years later he would finish runner-up in the 2014 US Open final.
2. Andrei Medvedev – 17 years, 9 months, 15 days – Genoa 1992
Young Ukrainian Medvedev made the tennis world sit up and take note in 1992 when he became the youngest ATP World Tour (as it was known at the time) title winner.
The teenager didn’t beat any seeded players en route to the title and he defeated Argentinian Guillermo Perez Roldan, who reached a career-high of No 13 during his career, 6-3, 6-4 in the final.
In total, Medvedev won 11 ATP singles titles and eight of them were before he turned 20.
1. Lleyton Hewitt – 16 years, 10 months, 9 days – Adelaide 1998
Ranked No 550 in the world, school boy Lleyton Hewitt announced his arrival on the big stage with a superb display in Adelaide as he beat the likes of Mark Woodforde, Vince Spadea and the great Andre Agassi en route to the final.
In the final itself the future world No 1 came from a set down to beat fellow Australian Jason Stoltenberg 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) to replace Medvedev as the youngest ATP Tour title winner.
“I was still planning on going to school as much as possible in Year 12, our final year of high school in Australia, but that January, just before school re-started in February, I got the Adelaide wild card. So I’d pretty much decided when I held up the trophy, that I wasn’t going back to school,” he recalled on the ATP Tour’s official website on the 20th anniversary of his feat.
• Correct as of July 26, 2021
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