When Rafael Nadal returned to world No. 2 in the ATP Rankings this week, it marked a significant moment for Spain too. The 36-year-old has famously spent a record stint among the top 2 players in the world, but this time around it wasn’t Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic ahead of him.

With 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz’s electrifying run to the US Open title, he kicked off his own rise to ATP world No. 1—making him the youngest men’s player to top the rankings. Alongside Nadal, it was the first time that countrymen shared the top two spots in 22 years and the first time two non-Americans achieved the feat.

"Proud to share this historic moment with @RafaelNadal, the best player of all-time," Alcaraz wrote on Twitter.

But that’s not the first time that Nadal has shared a historic rankings milestone with a fellow Spaniard.

This week’s #tbt takes us back five years earlier—to a time in 2017 when Nadal and Garbiñe Muguruza shared the ATP and WTA’s No. 1 ranking for a momentous first.


In 2017, Muguruza was in the midst of one of the best years of her career, having lifted her second Grand Slam trophy at Wimbledon. A season of upheaval on the women’s tour saw Serena Williams’s grip on the WTA No. 1 ranking finally loosen, and in 2017 the top ranking changed hands seven times.

By the time the calendar arrived to the US Open, Muguruza was one of eight players in contention for the No. 1 ranking.

Meanwhile, after snapping Andy Murray’s 41-week run at the top, Nadal rose to ATP No. 1 for the fourth time on August 21. After tearing through the clay and hard-court seasons—including winning his tenth Roland Garros crown that spring—Nadal finally clinched his return to the top ahead of the US Open.

"Very proud to share such a special moment for our country with Rafael Nadal, the best role model," Muguruza wrote on social media.

"Very proud to share such a special moment for our country with Rafael Nadal, the best role model," Muguruza wrote on social media.


And after reaching the fourth round at the US Open—among other results—Muguruza finally joined her countryman at the top on Sep 11, 2017. It was the first time since Andre Agassi and Serena Williams in 2003 for countrymen to stand atop both the men’s and women’s rankings.

“It’s a dream come true, it is what I have always wanted ever since I was little, each time I blew out the candles, each time I imagined something,” Muguruza said in a Twitter video.

Ultimately, Spain’s joint reign atop the tennis rankings would be brief: Muguruza spent four weeks as WTA world No. 1, only to be unseated by another first-timer in Simona Halep, while Nadal ended the season as year-end No. 1.

Sharing milestones with Muguruza and Alcaraz is a testament to Nadal’s longevity—but it’s also a signal of the depths of Spanish tennis, and the ways that countrymen can inspire each other to reach ever higher.

For more same-country milestones, check out Van Sias’ Top 5 Feats by Two Compatriots.