Rafael Nadal is a professional Spanish tennis player with the world’s most Grand Slam wins in men’s category, the title which he shares with Roger Federer. Nadal has been ranked world’s No. 3 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) in 2021 and has finished as the year-end No. 1 five times.
His rise in tennis is nothing short of an exceptional journey, and on his birthday, we are here to mention the top Grand Slam performances of his career:
First Grand Slam title, 2005 French Open
Nadal, who entered Roland Garros with a 17-match undefeated streak on clay, established himself as the French Open favourite despite having never competed in the competition previously. On his 19th birthday, the Spanish tyro proved why so many people thought he would win the championship here, beating world No. 1 Roger Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. At first, it was a titanic war of wills, with both men’s faces displaying signs of mental stress as they fought to assert oneself and seize the initiative.
Finest Year, 2010 US Open
Nadal considers 2010 to be his finest year. As a professional player Nadal became the sole male competitor in tennis history to achieve Grand Slam titles on 3 separate surfaces (clay, grass, and hard court) in the very same calendar year. Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic to win his first US Open and join six other great players in owning all four grand slams. However, like with everything of this championship, projections and impressions were not quite accurate, and the result – 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2 – scarcely represented the depth and brilliance of a tennis contest that resembled a world heavyweight title battle.
Expert of Hardcourts, 2019 US Open
Competing in his 6th final at Flushing Meadows, the Spaniard demonstrated that he is an expert of hardcourts in New York fortnight, after already demonstrating that he is the King of Clay. The 33-year-old had to dig deep for almost 5 hours to overcome the Russian and raise his Grand Slam career total to 19, one short of Roger Federer’s record. The lefthander became the 2nd oldest U.S. Open winner in professional history, trailing only Australian Ken Rosewall, who had been 35 when he won in 1970.
First player since Borg, 2008 Wimbledon Open
With his 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 triumph in one of tennis’ most spectacular and fascinating finals, Nadal became the first player since Borg to capture both Wimbledon and the French Open in the same year, a record that has remained since 1980. However, that only tells part of the story of an amazing, rain-interrupted encounter in which Federer, the reigning champion, relinquished his grasp on the Challenge Cup after a tremendous fight lasting four hours and 48 minutes.
Oldest Player to win 15 Slam titles, 2017 French Open
A lack of preparation, a switch to a heavier variety of tennis balls, and the chilly, rainy fall weather of the rescheduled event may not seem noteworthy, but they were meant to leave the Spaniard susceptible in a competition he had only lost twice in 16 years. Many considered him the second favourite for Sunday’s final. They predicted he would struggle in the absence of the dry, scorching conditions that favour his spin-heavy style. Instead, he annihilated Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in a ruthless game that he termed as one of his favourites in his great Roland Garros career.