Rafael Nadal: The Spaniard has won 14 French Open titles and 22 Grand Slams but

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Rafael Nadal The Spaniard Has Won 14 French Open Titles

The King of Clay entered Roland Garros in 2014 with only one European title on the dirt for the first time in 10 years but he won French Open number nine and record a fifth successive victory by defeating rival Djokovic in four sets. He was presented with the Coupe de Mousquetaires by another legend of the sport – Borg.

The win helped him extend his incredible run at Roland Garros to 66 wins and just one defeat over 10 years.

The 2015 season proved to be his annus horribilis with a quarter-final defeat in Melbourne. He then failed to win a single European clay court title for the first time since 2004 heading into the French Open. At Roland Garros he suffered only his second defeat with Djokovic ending his hopes in the last eight. Early exits at Wimbledon and the US Open ended Nadal’s record 10-year streak of winning at least one major.

The following year proved even worse for Nadal with a shock defeat to compatriot Fernando Verdasco in five gruelling sets at the Australian Open before being forced to withdraw a day before his third round match at Roland Garros due to a wrist injury. He missed Wimbledon and at Flushing Meadows, Frenchman Lucas Pouille put paid to his hopes in the fourth round.

His three-year Grand Slam drought came to an end in the 2017 French Open final with a brutal 6-2 6-3 6-1 mauling of Stan Wawrinka. Nadal’s ‘La Decima’ was his 10th French Open, and he managed it without dropping a set throughout the tournament. It was his most one-sided final win since allowing Federer just four games in the 2008 final.

At 31, he become the oldest champion in Paris since 34-year-old Andres Gimeno in 1972.

A ruthless Nadal continued his comeback when he proved far too good for Kevin Anderson as he claimed a 16th Grand Slam title at the US Open. The world No 1 lived up to his billing as the heavy favourite with a 6-3 6-3 6-4 victory over the surprise finalist.

Imperious Nadal took his Roland Garros win-loss record to a jaw-dropping 86-2 as he won a record-extending 11th French Open title with victory over young pretender Dominic Thiem.

He joined Australia’s Margaret Court as the only player to win 11 titles at the same major.

In a repeat final the following year, Nadal was pushed perhaps as hard as he has ever been in a final in the first two sets. But Thiem, who played sensational tennis for nearly two hours, could not sustain the pace and Nadal charged away to victory, winning 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1.

Nadal stood on his own as the most successful singles player, male or female, at a single Grand Slam having moved clear of Court’s record at the Australian Open.

At Flushing Meadows he overcame Daniil Medvedev in five breath-taking sets to claim his 19th major, and move to within one Slam of Federer’s all-time record.

The Spanish second seed led by two sets and a break, but he needed to halt a thrilling comeback from the Russian rebel to win an epic showdown 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4.

The colder conditions and heavier balls in the rearranged French Open in 2020 led to Nadal casting doubt on his ability to retain his title, but he did not drop a set all tournament – the fourth time this has happened in his career, having done likewise in 2008, 2010 and 2017.

He produced a clinical display to put away Djokovic and equal Federer’s record tally of 20 Grand Slam titles.

The most unexpected of all Nadal’s successes, and the one that took him to the top of the tree came at this year’s Australian Open.

The Spaniard had not won in Melbourne since 2009 and had feared a foot injury would force him into retirement but he recovered from two sets down to defeat Medvedev after more than five hours.

Nadal suffered a fractured rib in Indian Wells to severely hamper his preparation for the clay-court season, before his chronic foot problem resurfaced in Rome to spark fears he would not be fit for Roland Garros.

But stunning, battling wins over Felix Auger-Aliassime and Djokovic highlighted another French Open success, with Casper Ruud unable to upset the odds in the final.