With his victory over Novak Djokovic, who had defeated him in four matches previous to the Roland Garros 2014, Nadal, tennis player born in Manacor, managed accumulated the prestigious number of 14 “grand titles”, which up until now only the American Pete Sampras had achieved. With his 9th trophy in the Parisian tournament, he is three Grand Slam titles behind the Swiss player Roger Federer.
But, can we consider Nadal the best tennis player in history? On clay court he most definitely is. His last two trophies in Paris were handed to him by Björn Borg, who until the arrival of the Balear was, together with the Argentinian Guillermo Vilas, regarded as the best tennis player across all surfaces. While the “Iceman” set the record for French Open titles at six, Rafael Nadal already boasts nine Roland Garros Trophies and with his 27 years has plenty of potential to continue exceeding himself. Sure is that Federer still is at the forefront of this hypothetical race for the honourable title as best tennis player in history. However, two factors speak against the Swiss genius: Firstly, his face to face matches with Nadal, which the Manarcorian tennis player clearly won with 23 to 10, an secondly, Federer’s current game, meaning that since 2012 he has not won a single grand title.
On the other hand, Rafa Nadal’s sporting career has converted him into a true record man. The plain numbers reflect the excellent trajectory of a Champion who at this point seems to be competing only with himself. He is the only tennis player to ever win the same Grand Slam nine times (Federer, Sampras and Renshaw hold seven Wimbledon titles, while Bill Tilden, Larned and Sears have seven from the US Open), in addition to being the only tennis player who ever won the French Open for five consecutive times. He also holds the record of wins at the Roland Garros: 66 times (with only one loss), while Federer, at the moment counts 61 and the Argentinian Guillermo Villas retired with 58. It also has to be mentioned that Nadal is record holder for the absolute number of consecutive victories on clay, with 81 wins on this surface.
Rafael Nadal is also the only tennis player in history to win at list one Grand Slam title in ten consecutive years. He also holds the record for the ATP Masters 1000, with 27 titles (until now, Federer has won 21) and he is the tennis player with the best percentage of victories of all times, with a percentage of 83.79% matches won across all surfaces, which if calculated against clay court, the percentage rises to an incredible 92.9%. He only needs one more great feat (two, if we take into account the competition for majors with Federer) to overtake: he has to snatch the record from Vilas, in terms of total tournaments won on clay. Currently Nadal has won 45 titles, while the Argentinian over his career achieved 46.
The next event for Nadal will take place on London’s grass in a few days time. At Wimbledon, Nadal can go after his third title in this historic tournament, although it is to hope that he will be on top of his game, as he will be challenged by the other players of the Big Four, including his long time rival Djokovic; Federer, who is clinging to this tournament as the only big chance to add another win to his record book and the local idol, Andy Murray, who has emerged ever since his Olympic triumph.