5 unique records held by Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal became the first man in tennis history to win 21 Grand Slams earlier this year, defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final of the Australian Open. In doing so, the Spaniard also became the second man to complete the Double Career Slam in the 21st century — a feat only Novak Djokovic had achieved before him.
Those two records are only part of a much longer list in the Mallorcan’s career. Having made his debut on the ATP Tour in 2001 as a teenager, Nadal has accumulated some of the most unique and interesting records possible in the sport over an illustrious career.
Without further ado, here’s a list of five of them:
#1 Winning four tournaments on 10 separate occasions
Rafael Nadal has won four separate tournaments at least 10 times till date
Rafael Nadal’s clay dominance is a well-known fact, but the degree of his dominance on the surface is something that cannot be fully comprehended without the sheer numbers behind it.
The 21-time Grand Slam champion has won Roland Garros 13 times till date, the only player in ATP history to win a Grand Slam more than 10 times. The 35-year-old has also won the Monte-Carlo Masters 11 times, the Barcelona Open 12 times and the Rome Masters 10 times till date.
This makes him the only player to have four separate tournaments at least 10 times. The closest anyone has gotten to the World No. 4 is Roger Federer, who has 10 titles at two events (Halle and Swiss Indoors).
#2 Completing the Clay Slam
As much is said about the Sunshine Double being the hardest achievement to complete on the ATP calendar, the Clay Slam is much harder. That means winning the Monte-Carlo Masters, Madrid Masters, Rome Masters and the French Open in the same calendar year — a feat only Rafael Nadal has accomplished.
The former World No. 1 did the unthinkable in 2010, defeating Fernando Verdasco and David Ferrer in the final in Monte-Carlo and Madrid respectively. In Rome, he quelled Roger Federer in the final and followed it up by dismantling Robin Soderling in the Paris final to win four “big” titles in two months.
Interestingly, the Spaniard went on to win Wimbledon that year too, making him the only player to win five consecutive big titles.
#3 Simultaneously holding the Olympic Gold and Slams on all three surfaces
Rafael Nadal raced to the Olympic gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, besting Novak Djokovic in the semifinals and Fernando Gonzalez in the final to win his first Olympic medal.
The Olympics took place in August of that year, before which the Spaniard won both the French Open and Wimbledon. The three-time defending champion vanquished Roger Federer in the final at Roland Garros to notch up his fourth Major title. Wimbledon witnessed the same result, with the Mallorcan beating five-time defending champion Federer to win his first Slam on grass.
Following his Olympic success, the 21-time Grand Slam champion lost in the semifinals of the US Open but went on to win the Australian Open the following year with another victory over the Swiss maestro in the final. This made him the defending champion of the Olympics as well as Majors on all three surfaces simultaneously, a record that is still unmatched to this day.
#4 Most consecutive weeks in the ATP top-10
Rafael Nadal has been ranked for 864 consecutive weeks in the top 10
Rafael Nadal first ascended to the top-10 of the ATP rankings in April 2005, moving from World No. 11 to World No. 7. Since then, for 864 weeks (as of 11 April 2022), the 35-year-old has never left the top-10.
The lowest he has ever reached has been the World No. 10 spot, which he occupied for a total of just eight weeks. The Spaniard has been the World No. 1 and World No. 2 for 209 and 370 weeks respectively, also making him the player with the most time spent in the ATP top-two.
#5 Winning a US Open final without facing a break point
Rafael Nadal won the 2017 US Open without facing a break on his serve
The US Open is not normally the Grand Slam most fans would associate with Rafael Nadal, but the former World No. 1 is among the most successful players at the tournament in the Open Era. While the record is held by Roger Federer, Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras with five titles each, the Mallorcan has four titles to his name — tied with John McEnroe.
In the 2017 edition, the 21-time Grand Slam champion dwarfed Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals and took on first-time Major finalist Kevin Anderson in the final. It was a very subdued affair, with the 35-year-old triumphing over Anderson with relative ease in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
Over the course of the match, Nadal did not even face a single break point on his serve, making him the only player to do so in a final at Flushing Meadows till date.