Teenagers in the Top 100

If Ryan Harrison qualifies for the French Open and reaches the second round, he’ll probably break into the top 100. I wouldn’t bet on that degree of success at Roland Garros, but the relevant point is that the young American is close–if he falters in Paris, a couple of deep runs at challenger events will do the trick.

Harrison just turned 19, and he is the youngest player in the top 150. When Grigor Dimitrov turns 20 next Monday, Harrison will the be the top-ranked 19-year-old in the world. There is a widespread sense that reaching the top 100 is one measure of “making it,” and an equally popular notion that if a player hits that benchmark at such a young age, he is probably destined for success.

Indeed, hitting the top 100 as a teenager is rare, and it’s getting even less common.  Of the 940 players who have spent time in the top 100 in the history of the ATP ranking computer, fewer than 150 (16%) broke in when they were teenagers.  Since the beginning of 2001, 209 players have broken in, including only 25 teenagers (12%).

As you might expect, those 25 have generally gone on to very successful careers.  20 have reached the top 20, and 17 have climbed into the top 10.  It’s even better than that, since in time, Dimitrov and Kei Nishikori seem likely to make those numbers 22 and 19 out of 25.

If Harrison breaks into the top 100 by the end of July, he’ll become the 20th youngest player to do so since the beginning of 2001.  If we want to get technical and limit the span to exactly 10 years, he’ll become the 16th youngest player since mid-2001.  (Early 2001 was a good time for teenagers, with Jose Acasuso, Andy Roddick, Mikhail Youhzny, and Tommy Robredo all reaching the top 100 in the span of three months.)

Incidentally, Bernard Tomic has a chance to make an even more impressive mark, as he is five and a half months younger than Harrison.  However, he’s 50 spots and 130 points lower on the ranking computer, so his appearance in the top 100 as a teenager seems far less assured.

After the jump, see the full list of teenagers who reached the top 100 since 2001.

Player                 Debut100  DebutAge  PeakRank  
Rafael Nadal           20030421      16.9         1  
Richard Gasquet        20030929      17.3         7  
Juan Martin Del Potro  20061009      18.1         4  
Novak Djokovic         20050704      18.1         2  
Kei Nishikori          20080428      18.3        46  
Donald O Young         20071126      18.4        73  
Tomas Berdych          20040202      18.4         6  
Andy Murray            20051003      18.4         2  
Ernests Gulbis         20070226      18.5        21  
Jose Acasuso           20010423      18.5        20  

Player                 Debut100  DebutAge  PeakRank
Evgeny Korolev         20060911      18.6        46  
Andy Roddick           20010402      18.6         1  
Mikhail Youzhny        20010129      18.6         8  
Gael Monfils           20050502      18.7         9  
Mario Ancic            20021202      18.7         7  
Tommy Robredo          20010226      18.8         5  
Robin Soderling        20030825      19.0         4  
Marin Cilic            20071015      19.1         9  
Nicolas Almagro        20040913      19.1         9  
Sam Querrey            20070129      19.3        17  

Player                 Debut100  DebutAge  PeakRank
David Nalbandian       20010723      19.6         3  
Marcos Baghdatis       20050131      19.6         8  
Grigor Dimitrov        20110131      19.7        64  
Robby Ginepri          20020715      19.8        15  
Fernando Verdasco      20030915      19.8         7

4 thoughts on “Teenagers in the Top 100”

  1. I don’t see Roger Federer on your list here, but you mention in your subsequent post that Pat Rafter is the only exception of No. 1 players not to reach Top 100 as a teenager.

    1. Yep – the list is limited to those who broke into the top 100 in the 00’s, and Fed did so in the 90’s, at 18.

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