Rafael Nadal sprinted into the record books of the French Open right from his debut on the Parisian clay in 2005. He has been ruling the red dirt ever since pulling a victory in his first match at Roland Garros when he was only ten days shy of his 19th birthday. Hence he paved the way for a new era in tennis.
The Roland Garros has a special place in Nadal’s heart. He has inscribed his name in the history of French Open with his mind-boggling triumphs in the past one and a half-decade. The Mallorcan has created some records at the French Open which will never be broken by any of his successors.
The ‘La Duodecima’ (12 Titles) at the French Open
Rafael Nadal is the first player in the open era to clinch 12 titles at any tour-level event. His ‘La Duodecima’ (12 titles) at the Roland Garros is considered to be the greatest achievement by many tennis pundits and analysts.
He is the only player in history, male or female, to win 12 grand slams at a single major. No other male player has won more than 8 titles at a single Grand Slam tournament in the Open Era.
In his quest to this 10th title on the red clay of Paris, Nadal did not drop a single set and lost only 35 games. His record of losing only 35 games was only three less of Bjorn Borg’s record of 32 games lost. His next two titles at the French Open didn’t take long. He claimed two consecutive titles to complete “La Undecima” (the eleventh) in 2018 and “La Duodecima” (the twelfth) in 2019.
The only player to win the Clay Slam
In 2010, Rafael Nadal clinched the French Open along with all three clay-court Masters 1000 events in Monte Carlo, Rome, and Madrid in the same calendar year. He thus became the first, and only, player to complete the “Clay Slam”.
Defeat Roger Federer in 3 consecutive finals
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have played each other 40 times, with Nadal leading the head to head 24–16. Of their 40 matches, 6 have been at the Roland Garros, with Nadal dominating the Swiss ace 6–0.
Rafael Nadal went on to make three consecutive title defences from 2005 to 2008; he defeated the then world No. 1, Roger Federer, in three consecutive finals from 2006 to 2008. He also defeated the Swiss maestro in the 2005 semi-finals and again in the 2011 final. The Balearic is the only player to defeat Federer in four finals at the same major.
A herculean win record of 98%
He is known as the “King of Clay” and “God of Clay’ for some. Nadal won the French Open 9 times in his first 10 attempts. During those attempts, he held with a match record of 66-1 and a 98.5% win rate.
Since then, he holds a nearly perfect record in Paris with a W/L of 93–2 at the French Open from 2005 to 2019. Nadal has a win percentage of 97.9% in his 15-year career at the French Open. He is the only player to achieve this type of dominance at any single Grand Slam tournament.
Other Records of Rafael Nadal at the French Open
- The Spaniard has never been taken to five sets in his Eleven Roland-Garros finals.
- Furthermore, he has never lost consecutive matches on clay in his 17-season career.
- Nadal has only once lost a tiebreak at Roland-Garros (and won 11).
- Nadal tops the list for the most successful title defenses at a single Grand Slam event in the Open Era with eight at Roland-Garros
After all these unthinkable records, it will be interesting to see how long can the ‘King of Clay’ continues his dominance at the French Open.
MBA tech grad.| Sports enthusiast| Writer by passion