World Padel Tour 101: History of the men's Circuit

A brief World Padel Tour history lesson on the competition's first nine seasons ahead of the 2022 campaign, the most international year ever!

World Padel Tour 101: History of the men's Circuit

This is World Padel Tour 101, our series explaining the history and basics surrounding the competition, to get fans up to speed ahead of WPT's tenth season.

In this lesson, it is time to reflect on the first nine years of men's WPT history and what players were on top of the rankings from 2013 to now.

Also read: World Padel Tour 101: Improve your padel vocabulary!

Early World Padel Tour history

World Padel Tour was formed in 2013, meaning 2022 will be the tenth season of the competition. In the early years, the dominant force was the pairing of Fernando Belasteguín and Juan Martín Díaz. Reigning supreme in the first two seasons, they split up at the end of 2014.

Bela continued with Pablo Lima in 2015. Lima had been with Juani Mieres previously, the second-best couple at the time. When Lima and Bela teamed up, logically, expectations were very high. The South Americans delivered on those expectations, and then some. Winning 11 of the 13 tournaments in 2015, Bela and Lima were number ones three straight years in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

In their three-and-a-half years together, Fernando Belasteguín (left) and Pablo Lima (right) won 35 tournaments as a pair, the most of any pairing in WPT history.

Other top players the first five years were the likes of Maxi GrabielMiguel LampertiMatías DíazMaxi Sánchez and Sanyo GutiérrezPaquito Navarro, who would go on to become world number one later, won his first tournament in 2014, announcing himself while winning over the public very swiftly too with his charisma and his flair on the court.

Newly crowned kings

When Navarro teamed up with Gutiérrez in 2016, the pair slowly grew stronger below the devastatingly dominant Belasteguín and Lima. Both players would go on to be number ones, although that came after they split up at the end of 2017.

2017 also saw a young Franco Stupaczuk announcing himself on the big stage when the Argentinian won back-to-back tournaments. It would be the end of era for his fellow countryman Belasteguín, however, as it proved to be the final year El Boss would finish at the top of the rankings.

Bela and Lima would win three tournaments in 2018 until the former suffered a major injury. Lima would play the rest of the season with Navarro, even winning in Bilbao, until Belasteguín returned for the Master Final.

 'Sanyo' Gutiérrez (left) and Maxi Sánchez (right) won eight tournaments in 2018 to dethrone Belasteguín and Lima as the number ones

While stripped of number one status by newly-hailed kings Maxi Sánchez and Sanyo Gutiérrez, who won eight tournaments that season, Bela and Lima would have one last hoorah at that Master Final, where they beat the Argentinians in the final.

Spain rises to the top

That season also saw two young stars breaking through in Juan Lebrón, who reached the year's first final with Juan Cruz Belluati, and Alejandro Galán. The young Spaniard won in both Valladolid and Lugo with Mati Díaz and would only get better from there.

Lebrón had never won a tournament before 2019. When he teamed up with Navarro that year, however, the two got the very best out of each other. Navarro and Lebrón won five events, the same number as the reigning champions Sánchez and Gutiérrez.

Crucially, the two Spaniards just about edged out Sanyo and Maxi in terms of total points and became the first Spanish-born players to become world number ones in the men's Circuit.

2019 also saw the introduction of the 'gold point'. Now, when a game is tied 40-40, whoever wins that point wins the game. Not only does this speed a match up, it also adds to the drama and has been a resounding success.

Finally, it was the year where Belasteguín and Lima split up halfway through the season after a total of 35 tournament wins alongside on another. To this day, it is the most successful partnership in World Padel Tour history. Bela would seek refuge with young Argentinian star Agustín Tapia, while Lima partnered up with Galán.

Current WPT era

This brings us to the last two seasons, the 'current' era. Despite becoming number ones, Navarro and Lebrón separated, the latter switching to 2019 Master Final winner Galán.

It would prove a brilliant move, the two young Spaniards complementing each other's aggressive, high-octane style of padel nicely.

While the season was first suspended due to the COVID-19 outbreak and then hugely shortened after, Lebrón and Galán won six of the 11 tournaments that season to be that year's number ones. Galán became the youngest number one ever, taking Lebrón's record from the year prior.

Alejandro Galán (left) and Juan Lebrón (right) became number ones in 2020 and retained their crown the year after

They did lose in the Estrella Damm Master Final final to none other than Belasteguín and Tapia, who became the oldest and youngest player to win a Master Final at 41 and 21 respectively.

The most competitive season ever

2021 would prove to be the most competitive year in World Padel Tour history, with seven different pairs winning at least one tournament.

Belasteguín and Gutiérrez, considered by many as the two best Argentinian players of all time, announced they would partner up. Paquito Navarro bet on 2020 break-out star Martín Di Nenno, a bet that would prove very wise as the year developed.

Reigning number ones Galán/Lebrón and former number ones Bela/Gutiérrez won six of the first seven tournaments, with Luciano Capra winning his first-ever Open in between.

Franco Stupaczuk and his new sparring partner Alejandro Ruiz were also looking like a force to be reckoned with, as were Navarro/Di Nenno and Lima/Tapia.

Martín Di Nenno was reduced to tears after winning his first WPT event just five years after surviving a life-threatening car crash

As Bela/Sanyo split in September, the former choosing teenager Arturo Coello and the latter Tapia, Di Nenno and Navarro really hit their stride.

Di Nenno won his first-ever tournament at the Barcelona Master and the duo would win two more, making eight straight finals in the process. They were within touching distance of number one status but would fall just short of reigning champions Galán and Lebrón, who won the Estrella Damm Master Final 2021 to cap off another brilliant campaign.

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