Will Rafa Nadal pull off another feat of clay? 21 dominating numbers heading into the French Open


Rafael Nadal‘s career has been spectacular and his career on clay has been unlike any other in the history of the sport.

And Nadal loves Roland Garros. Period.

But only recently he returned from a rib injury while also dealing with chronic pain in his left foot that kept him out of Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year.

“I am not injured. I am a player living with an injury,” he said last week after losing in the third round of the Italian Open, one of four clay events he previously won at least 10 times.

As Nadal takes to the court at the 2022 French Open, we take a look at 21 legendary numbers and comparisons around his career.

1 — Nadal has ended the year as the ATP No. 1-ranked player five times — in 2008, 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019.

2 — Nadal has also won two Olympic gold medals: in singles in 2008 and in doubles in 2016. In 2008, Nadal bested Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez, paving the way to later earn a career Golden Slam (the four majors plus Olympic gold). In 2016, Nadal helped Spain win its first Olympic gold in men’s doubles, pairing with Marc López to defeat Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau of Romania. Nadal became just the second man, and fourth player overall, to win both singles and doubles gold since the sport returned to Olympic competition in 1988.

3 — Well, the Big Three. More specifically: Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have dominated men’s tennis for a generation. The Big Three have won 61 of the past 76 Grand Slam tournaments.

6 — Nadal has been dubbed the “King of Clay,” but he also has six major hard-court titles, which ranks fourth all-time behind only Djokovic, Federer and Pete Sampras, and has two on the grass at Wimbledon. Nadal and Djokovic are the only two male players in the Open era to win every Slam singles title at least twice.

10 — Talk about domination. The lowest Nadal has been ranked since 2005 was No. 10 in 2015.

10 — Nadal claimed at least one Grand Slam title for 10 consecutive years, from 2005 to 2014.

11 — Being partners on the court with Nadal pays off. He has 11 doubles titles, including three at the Masters 1000 level. (But that’s nowhere near how many singles titles he has won — keep reading.)

13 — Nadal has won a staggering 13 French Open titles, a record at any single tournament in the Open era. (Other tournament records in the era: Djokovic has won nine Australian Open titles, Martina Navratilova has nine Wimbledon titles and Chris Evert and Serena Williams are tied for the most US Open titles at six.)

15 — Nadal turned pro at age 15 in 2001. In April 2002, he won his first ATP match in his hometown of Mallorca, Spain, becoming just the ninth person in the Open era to win a match before age 16.

16 — Nadal has qualified for the ATP Finals, dubbed “the fifth Grand Slam,” 16 years in a row, a record in the Open era. The event, which takes place in November, features the world’s best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams and is set up in a round-robin format.

21 — The Spaniard has 21 Grand Slam men’s singles titles under his belt in 21 years as a pro, the most in history for men’s players and second behind Serena Williams (23) in the Open era. (Federer and Djokovic both have 20.)

24 — At the age of 24, Nadal became the youngest player ever to complete a career Grand Slam. He defeated Djokovic in four sets at the 2010 US Open to capture the achievement. (He won his first French Open in 2005, Wimbledon in 2008 and Australian Open in 2009.)

29 — Nadal has appeared in 29 Grand Slam finals. In the 2022 French Open, he will look to move closer to the record of 31 held by both Federer and Djokovic.

40 — Nadal has faced Federer 40 times. Nadal leads 24-16 overall and 10-4 in Grand Slam tournaments. They have met in nine Grand Slam finals, with Nadal winning on six occasions. Oddly enough, they have never played against one another at the US Open, in any round.

58 — Nadal and Djokovic have gone head-to-head 58 times, with Djokovic holding a narrow 30-28 lead. Nadal, however, leads 10-7 in matches at majors. The two could meet next in the French Open quarterfinals.

81 — Nadal won an astounding 81 straight times on clay during a two-year stretch from April 2005 to May 2007, the longest single-surface win streak.

83 — Nadal ranks first in career winning percentage at 83.21%.

91 — Nadal has earned 91 singles titles, including 11 in 2005 and 10 in 2013.

128 — Nadal’s career winnings top $128 million. Federer has taken home $130.5 million and Djokovic has earned $156.1 million.

212 — Going into the French Open, Nadal has only lost 212 times in his career, in 1,263 matches. Which brings us to …

1,051 — Nadal has 1,051 wins in his career as of May 22. That’s compared with Federer’s 1,251 wins (1,526 total matches) and Djokovic’s 1,001 (1,204 total matches).

The Associated Press contributed to this story.





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