King of the Clay, part 2


Nadal’s surprise defeat at Roland Garros turned out to be injury-related as it was confirmed that he was suffering from tendinitis in both knees. Sadly, injuries would become a bane on Nadal’s latter part career. As a matter of fact, he would fail defend his 2008 Wimbledon Championship and his 2013 US Open due to injuries.

Anyway, Nadal came back from his 2009 debacle and started another glorious run at the French Open.


Back to being seeded 2nd, Nadal is back to his old self on the clay. He won his first four matches without dropping a set. He found a tough opponent in the quarterfinals but, nonetheless, eliminated Nicolás Almagro in straight sets, 7-6, 7-6, 6-4. He found a supposedly lighter road to his fifth title. He found Jurgen Melzer in the semis, who eliminated 3rd seed Novac Djokovic in the quarters, and may get a chance at getting revenge because last year’s tormentor Robin Soderling eliminated Top Seed Roger Federer in another quarterfinals match. He quickly dispatched Meltzer in the semis, 6-2, 6-3, 7-6, and got his vengeance by knocking out Soderling in straight sets, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4, in the finals. Set won-loss count in the French Open update: 114-10.


He got seeded first this time and seem to get a bad luck along with it. He got a scare right on the opening round as he allowed John Isner to go up 2-1, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7 in a precarious elimination scenario. He, however, got his bearings back and went to win the next two sets to get through the next round. He got through the quarterfinals with an immaculate set record. This would be his toughest challenge as he is set to face the order of the draw. And he responded beautifully. He ousted fifth seeded Soderling in straight sets, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6, in the quarterfinals, fourth seeded Andy Murray in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, in the semis and Third Seed Federer if four sets, 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1, in the finals for his sixth title. Set won-loss count in the French Open update: 135-13. He was on a 22 set winning streak before dropping the second set in his match with Isner.


Still seeded 2nd, Nadal breezes through the most lopsided first four rounds of his career. He tallied scores of 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in the first round, 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 in the second, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 in the third, and 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 in the fourth. He found a tough customer in Almagro in the first set but went to eliminate him in straight sets, 7-6, 6-2, 6-3, in the quarterfinals as well as compatriot David Ferrer, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, in the semis. He then proceeded to outwit the top seed Djokovic, 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5, in the finals.  Set won-loss count in the French Open update: 156-14.


Seededc3rd, his lowest since his debut year, he would drop a set each in the first and second rounds but still prevailed easily to reach the quarters. He would quickly eliminate Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 but had to go through the eye of the needle this time against Djokovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7 to reach the finals where he again routed David Ferrer, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to tie the all time win record at Roland Garros. Set won-loss count in the French Open update: 177-18.


Nadal is again seeded 1st and is back to his old self. Her got out of the first round without any trouble. He would loss an set to Ferrer before eliminating him, 4-6, 6-4, 6-0, 6-1. He would quickly dispose Andy Murray 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 in the semis. He would face again Djokovic in the finals, and this time, booted him out only dropping the first set, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4. Set won-loss count in the French Open update: 198-20.


Seeded lowest for his career at 6th, he would still breeze through the first four rounds dropping only a set in the fourth round before running to a brick wall called Novak in a story that will be retold for a long, long time. Set won-loss count in the French Open update: 210-24.

It is not only the winning that makes him king in this surface. Just 24 set lost out of 234 played. That is how dominant he is in this surface. Just think the number of rounds in boxing that a fighter could win in his career for appreciation. Floyd Mayweather, in all his greatness, does not come close to this percentage.

For desserts, here are some more facts about Nadal in the French Open

  1. From April 2005 through May 2007, Nadal won 81 consecutive matches on clay, a single-surface winning streak that stands as an Open Era record.
  1. Rafael Nadal became the first man to win a Grand Slam tournament nine times when he beat Djokovic in the 2014 Roland Garros final breaking a tie with Max Decugis, who had his streak before the open era. The open era record prior to Nadal belongs to Björn Borg with six.
  1. On the strength of his Roland Garros run, he was the first man to win at least one Grand Slam title for nine consecutive years when he defeated David Ferrer in the 2013 French Open. He also won the US Open that year.
  1. His consecutive streak of at least one grand slam title is now 10 having annexed the 2014 Australian Open. The next in rank are Federer, Borg, and Pete Sampras with 8. This story is yet to be closed as the 2015 Wimbledon and the US Open are still to be played.
  1. His 39 game winning streak was the longest in the Open era of French Open history. It is the fourth longest in the Open era of Grand Slam tournaments. Only the 41of Bjorn Borg starting in 1976 to 1981 at Wimbledon, and twin 40s from Federer, one from 2004 to 2009 at the US Open and another one at Wimbledon from 2003 to 2008, are better.