You flip your newspaper to sports section- you see Roger Federer winning titles, few months later you see Rafa Nadal sweeping clay, you check the year, it’s 2018 and not 2007! What a time to be a tennis lover. The two darlings of men’s tennis are the talking points yet again. And with clay season heating up, Rafa Nadal has taken over the control of things from Roger Federer- the Australian Open Champion this year.
Winning Monte Carlo and Barcelona for a record 11th time, Nadal has now set his eyes on his very own crushed bricks of Paris. He is the heavy favourite to win Roland Garros for the 11th time. Certainly, Nadal has a chance at breaking and creating numerous records at the second major of the year. Take a look at some of the prominent ones.
Rafa Nadal could become the only player- man or woman- to win 11 titles at a single Grand Slam tournament. Currently Rafa is tied at 9, with the great Martina Navratilova, who has won Wimbledon 9 times. Nadal won his first in 2005 and since then has only lost to two players at the French Open. This record will be one of the most difficult to break as no active player seems to have the utter dominance that Nadal has had on clay. From 2005 to 2014 Rafa has carved his name 9 times on the trophy.
|2005||Rafael Nadal||Mariano Puerta||6–7(6–8), 6–3, 6–1, 7–5|
|2006||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer||1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6(7–4)|
|2007||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer||6–3, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4|
|2008||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer||6–1, 6–3, 6–0|
|2009||Roger Federer||Robin Söderling||6–1, 7–6(7–1), 6–4|
|2010||Rafael Nadal||Robin Söderling||6–4, 6–2, 6–4|
|2011||Rafael Nadal||Roger Federer||7–5, 7–6(7–3), 5–7, 6–1|
|2012||Rafael Nadal||Novak Djokovic||6–4, 6–3, 2–6, 7–5|
|2013||Rafael Nadal||David Ferrer||6–3, 6–2, 6–3|
|2014||Rafael Nadal||Novak Djokovic||3–6, 7–5, 6–2, 6–4|
Since 2014, Nadal is stuck on the second spot on all time major list, behind Roger Federer and alongside Pete Sampras. It looked like Rafa would soon surpass Federer, but he has failed to even go ahead of Sampras. Reasons being his injuries and his form on surfaces that are not red. Also his slump to Novak Djokovic. But this time around, Nadal looks the front runner to lift the trophy, which has not happened since 2014.
Only a spirited performance like Thiem’s could stop Rafa from winning the La Decima, everything else points one way and come the second Sunday of Roland Garros, Rafa Nadal would have conquered 127 other men for the 15th time in his illustrious career.
Currently Rafa is sharing the record of being the only player to win French Open without losing a set, twice, with Bjorn Borg. In 2008 and 2010, Nadal won 21 out of 21 sets and can surpass Borg if he achieves this feat in 2017.
2008 final was also one of the most dominant display of tennis at the grandest stage, as Rafa went on to hand Federer his heaviest career defeat, winning 6-1, 6-3, 6-0. In 2010, Nadal avenged his 2009 defeat against Robin Soderling, sweeping him aside 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
This year too, it’d be extremely difficult to take a set from Rafa, let alone beat him over five sets. There aren’t too many players at the moment who could do that.
There are plenty more records that Nadal could improve upon, but these were the ones that he still doesn’t own by himself. With every match that he plays on clay at this stage of his career, it’s bound to change the record books.