Rafael Nadal wins his 12th French Open 🏆
▪️ Never lost a French Open final
▪️ 18 total Grand Slam titles pic.twitter.com/3auWhmxTK9
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 9, 2019
Rafael Nadal has established a reputation as one of the most dominant players in the history of men’s tennis. Only Roger Federer has won more Grand Slams than the Spaniard’s 18 crowns, and at the age of 33, Nadal will be eyeing further success on the court. No player has enjoyed more of an imperious hold over an event as the left-hander has at the French Open. Nadal has won the competition an astounding 12 times in 15 appearances.
Incredibly, he has lost only two matches at Roland Garros out of 95, missing a third-round contest in 2016 due to injury which forced him to withdraw from the tournament. Nadal’s excellence at the French Open has allowed him to keep pace with Federer in their battle to claim the most Grand Slam crowns. However, he and the Swiss are now both looking over their shoulders as Novak Djokovic.
The Serb is closing in fast behind the leading duo after beating Federer at Wimbledon to win his 16th Grand Slam. Djokovic is two years younger than Nadal and seven than the Swiss, putting him in prime position to surpass the two legends of the game. Given his performance at Wimbledon, Djokovic is the favourite for punters that bet on US Open 2019 on the exchanges, and it’s hard to look past the 31-year-old. He is the defending champion at Flushing Meadows and it will take a special performance to end his reign.
— Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar (@rnadalacademy) July 31, 2019
Nadal failed to defend the title in 2018 before a showdown with his rival after being forced to retire against Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-final, who had beaten at the same stage in the previous year. The US Open has been Nadal’s strongest competition outside of the French Open, winning three titles in 14 attempts. Fortune was on his side in 2017 when he faced off against Kevin Anderson in the final after Federer was defeated in the quarter-finals, while Djokovic and Andy Murray withdrew from the tournament due to injury. The Spaniard still had to get the job done and was impressive, seeing off the South African with straight sets.
It ended a four-year wait for a triumph not on clay. Injuries and a defeat at the hands of Roger Federer had prevented the Spaniard winning a title on a hard court since 2013. Although he made the re-emergence in 2017, he has not been able to kick on, failing to complete his contest against Del Potro last year, along with suffering a defeat in the final of the Australian Open to Djokovic in January.
Worryingly for Nadal, the 33-year-old has not been able to beat Djokovic on grass or a hard court since his victory in 2013 in the US Open. The same can be said of his recent record against Federer, last producing a win on a hard court in the 2014 Australian Open semi-finals. To win another Grand Slam outside of Roland Garros, Nadal will have to beat his contemporaries on grass or a hard surface. A failure to do so will likely affect his legacy among the leading three players of the generation.