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Alcaraz, Swiatek top worldtennis rankings

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Alcaraz, Swiatek top worldtennis rankings

FOLLOWING professional tennis in 2022 has been about keeping track of court verdicts on immigration, vaccination protocols, updates on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, experimental injury treatments, and tearful retirement ceremonies.

  After a year of peculiar storylines dominating the sport, it has seen two young champions rise to the top. Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, 19, was confirmed to be the youngest year-end World No. 1 on Wednesday, while 21-year-old Iga Swiatek, more experienced and far more dominant than her male counterpart, wrapped her place at the top of the women’s rankings by September, after a remarkable season that saw her win 37 consecutive matches.

  On the men’s tour, things have been far from par for the course. The ever-dominant ‘Big Three,’ released their grip at the top of the game. Roger Federer announced his retirement with a teary-eyed farewell at the Laver Cup. Rafael Nadal started the season on a tear, marking a revival back from injury-induced purgatory to win 20 matches on the bounce, as well as the Australian Open and French Open.

But a series of fresh injury trouble – resurfacing of old and emergence of new – as well as the birth of his first child following a challenging pregnancy for his wife, led to him ending his season on a low, losing four consecutive matches in yet another reminder that despite the remarkable highs of this year, the end is near.

  Novak Djokovic, even if he still is at the peak of his powers, suffered a fate even stranger. His stubborn stance on remaining unvaccinated against COVID-19 led to his deportation from Australia, and he was not allowed to play the US Open and four Masters 1000 events this year. He carried on regardless, keeping the old guard alive, winning Wimbledon and three other tournaments, notching enough points to reach the ATP Finals where he is the overwhelming favourite to lift the title on Sunday.

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  During this strange year, Alcaraz emerged out of the usual suspects’ shadow. His meteoric rise to the top has been remarkable, but more remarkable is his euphoric popularity, the kind that kept thousands of New York faithful in their seats in the middle of the night during his back-to-back-to-back five-set marathons en route to his first Major title at the US Open. The Spaniard’s playing style is charismatic and entertaining, with a ferocious footspeed that allows him to be an elite defensive player, but also to widen the court to stay true to his attacking mindset. He’s got a powerful forehand, a hefty serve, and plenty of depth on his return. At a young age, despite being the world’s best, there’s a lot left to improve.

  There are arguments around Alcaraz’s status as the World’s No. 1 player, given the fact that Djokovic could not play in two Majors and four Masters, and did not keep the 2000 points he had held since 2018 as the four-time defending Wimbledon champion (the ATP and WTA stripped Wimbledon of ranking points after it disallowed Russian and Belarusian players). The Spaniard did, to his credit, defeat Djokovic in their only meeting on his way to the Madrid Masters title.

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