Rafael Nadal accomplished a lot of things in winning the 2014 French Open.
Nadal is the first dude to win nine titles at the same major tournament. He won his fifth French Open title. He has won 66 out of his last 67 matches at Roland Garros. Oh, and he has won his 14th Grand Slam title, tying Pete Sampras for second all time and trailing only Roger Federer’s 17 Grand Slam titles.
What was more impressive was that he beat down a guy who is in the midst of his prime in Novak Djokovic. Djokovic is not only the world’s #2-ranked player, he’s also had Nadal’s number as of late. Before today’s French Open final, he won three of his last four Grand Slam tournament matchup over Nadal – all resulting in titles. However, with today’s French Open win, Nadal is 23-19 overall against Djokovic.
What’s even more impressive is that Nadal is 28 years old, which is considered “old” in professional tennis. Generally speaking, tennis players are said to be approaching the end of their careers when they are over the age of 27. Given the knee problems that Nadal has suffered, no one counted on this “old” guy to be winning tournaments – let alone a Grand Slam title.
Here is one more thing where I think Nadal’s French Open win was special. It came during a time where there are more than three dominant male tennis players. Aside the aforementioned Federer and Djokovic, Nadal has to contend with the likes of Andy Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Ferrer, and Gaël Monfils either entering or in the midst of their primes.
The only tennis great who could best that was Sampras. His 14 Grand Slam titles came against the likes of fierce rival Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Michael Chang, Patrick Rafter, and Jim Courier. In other words, Sampras dominated during the Golden Age of ATP men’s tennis.
As for Federer (and yes, I will say this again), most of his 17 titles came against a much greener Nadal, an underachieving Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, and a bunch of other stiffs. And now Federer is 10-23 against Nadal. Yup, PRETTY damn great if you ask me (a shout out to my main man/Federer honk “Big Al”).
Let’s face it folks, at this point the only thing preventing Nadal from becoming the greatest of all time is Nadal himself.
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