Who Was the Last Player to Defeat Rafael Nadal at French Open?

Published 05/21/2021, 8:24 AM EDT
Tennis – ATP Masters 1000 – Italian Open – Foro Italico, Rome, Italy – May 13, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal reacts during his third round match against Canada’s Denis Shapovalov REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane


Rafael Nadal clinched his 20th Grand Slam title at French Open 2020. In the process, he also won his 13th French Open title and improved his overall win-loss record to 100-2. Since making his debut at Roland Garros in 2005, Nadal has just lost twice in Paris.

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Rafael Nadal at French Open- Record and lead up to the 2015 edition

In 16 editions that Nadal has played, he has won 13 of them. He has lost twice and withdrawn once. He was first defeated in 2009 by Robin Soderling in the fourth round. And the last player to defeat him was Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the 2015 French Open.

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Rafael Nadal of Spain hugs the Musketeers’ Cup. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

In 2015, Nadal was not in his best form. Coming to Roland Garros, Nadal didn’t win a single European clay-court title and looked jaded. His initial few rounds were good, but the quarterfinal was a mess. As Nadal’s ranking had dropped to 7th, he was in danger of facing Djokovic early on. And the draw placed them on collision course in the quarterfinals.

Novak Djokovic dominates Rafael Nadal

Alarm bells were ringing when Djokovic was 4-0 ahead in the opening set of the match. Djokovic was in the form of his life. 2015 was a magical year for the Serbian, as he reached the finals of all four Grand Slams, winning three and losing the French Open.

In his match against Nadal, Djokovic was the best on his service returns. Nadal was helpless, as nothing was working for him. Djokovic had created a blockage from all sides and gave Nadal no chance to move out of it. In the end, a double fault from Nadal sealed the victory for Djokovic. With that Djokovic became the first and only player to have beaten Nadal at all the Grand Slams.

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“It’s definitely a big win, a match that I will remember for a long time. You go through more emotions than for any other match. Of course, playing against Rafa in Roland Garros, it’s a special thing. It’s a special match,” Djokovic said after the match.

“He was better than me. That’s it. It’s very simple. When one opponent is playing better than you and is in better shape than you, that can happen,” Nadal on his loss.

Novak Djokovic of Serbia walks back onto court following a rain delay. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

In 2015, Djokovic won 11 titles which included three Grand Slams, six ATP Masters 1000 titles, and an ATP World Tour Finals title. He came into the match against Rafa with a 26 match win streak, whereas Rafa was the five-time defending champion and nine-time champ who had lost only once in Paris.

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A slump in form for Rafael Nadal and the subsequent comeback

The 2015 loss marked a gloomy two-year period for Nadal. He didn’t reach a Grand Slam semifinal in 2015-2016 and won just five titles. In 2016 Roland Garros, he withdrew from the tournament after the second round. He was later on the fringes of the top 10 as he struggled with form and injury.

Rafael Nadal with the US Open trophy. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Despite the slump of 2015 and 2016, Rafa made a fantastic comeback in 2017 and since then has won 19 titles including six Grand Slam titles.

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Bhavishya Mittal

1226 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.

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