Horacio Zeballos makes history by becoming fourth Argentine to reach tennis world number one

The Mar del Plata native made his way into the Madrid Masters 1000 semifinals, will lead the ATP doubles ranking on Monday

Argentine tennis star Horacio Zeballos made history on Thursday by reaching the top of the ATP doubles ranking. The Mar del Plata native and his regular partner, Spanish Marcel Granollers, beat Polish Jan Zielinski and Monegasque Hugo Nis, 2-6, 6-4, and 16-14 in the super tiebreak to reach the semifinals of the Madrid ATP Masters 1000.

The result earned both the necessary 360 points in the ATP doubles rankings to overtake Australian Matthew Ebden. This means when the rankings are updated on Monday, Zeballos and Granollers will be tied as doubles world number one.

It’s a historic result for both Zeballos and Argentine tennis as a whole. Only three Argentines had previously reached the top of the tennis rankings. The first to do it was Paola Suárez, who reached the top spot of women’s doubles tennis in 2002, part of a successful career that saw her win eight doubles Grand Slam titles next to longtime partner, Spanish player Virginia Ruano.

Next was Gisela Dulko, who also reached women’s doubles world number one in 2010, months before winning the 2011 Australian Open alongside Italian Flavia Penetta. The only Argentine men’s player to reach world number one was Gustavo Fernández, who did it in 2017 in the wheelchair tennis tour, aged just 23.

The 39-year-old Zeballos will join that list, which surprisingly doesn’t include another Mar del Plata native, Argentine tennis legend Guillermo Vilas. Arguably the greatest Argentine player in history, Vilas won four singles Grand Slam titles. For some, his record-breaking 1977 season — which saw him lose only 14 out of 150 games played on route to 16 titles — made him the year’s unofficial number one, but there are disagreements regarding technicalities on how points were totaled and has therefore never received the accolade. Vilas and the ATP have long been embroiled in a dispute as to whether he did reach the necessary points to officially claim it. 

Zeballos and Granollers will now face the duo of Uruguayan Ariel Behar and Czech Adam Pavlásek on Friday for a spot in the final, looking for a repeat of their 2021 win in Madrid.

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