15 March 1999: Carlos Moyá becomes first male Spanish tennis player to top the world rankings

Moyá with a trophy to commemorate his ranking.
Moyá with a trophy to commemorate his ranking. / AP
  • His achievement inspired a whole generation of new tennis stars, including fellow Mallorcan Rafael Nadal

Mallorcan tennis star Carlos Moyá made history on 15 March 1999 as he became the first male Spanish player in the Open Era to reach number one in the world rankings.

It was during a period in the late 1990s when a crop of young Spaniards entered the top 10. Moyá, however, was the only one from this generation who reached the top spot.

It came on the back of his only Grand Slam win at the French Open on 7 June, where he beat compatriot Àlex Corretja, in what was an outstanding 1998 season. It culminated in semifinal defeat at Flushing Meadows, losing to Australia's Mark Philippoussis.

However, his consistent performances and reaching the final of Indian Wells in 1999 earned him enough points to sit top of world tennis.

Equally as good on the defensive as he was on offensive, Moyá was one of the first of the modern Spanish tennis players who could hold their own on the hard courts, paving the way for future generations for whom his two-week stint as number one, as well as his decisive point to win Spain the 2004 Davis Cup, generated massive impetus for the sport in Spain.

In 2003, Juan Carlos Ferrero followed in his footsteps as number one, but perhaps Moyá's sporting achievement which gives him most personal satisfaction will have been to inspire Rafael Nadal who cites his fellow Mallorcan as one of his biggest influences.

Nadal became world number one for the first time on 18 August 2008 and, unlike Moyá, was able to regain the top ranking after losing it. In fact, he went on to win 17 Grand Slam singles titles, holding the world number one ranking for a total of 196 weeks.

After a dip in his career, the man Nadal turned to was none other than Carlos Moyá. Moyá joined his coaching team in 2016 and together they have seen the recovery of Nadal's career.