Fifteen years ago, it was hard to imagine that someone would ever reach 30 Major finals, with no one moving even closer to that number in the previous three decades. Roger Federer broke that barrier at the 2018 Australian Open, and Novak Djokovic joined him on the list a year ago.
The third legend, Rafael Nadal, checked his 30th Major final at the last week's Roland Garros, entering the special group with his closest rival and reaching another milestone. Rafa needed 17 years to grab this feat, playing in his first title match in Paris 2005.
Nadal failed to play in a Major final in 2015, 2016 and 2021, and he was among the title candidates at least once in every other season. Rafa has been perfect at Majors in 2022, and the Australian Open and Roland Garros final put him on 30, just one behind Djokovic and Federer.
The Spaniard claimed the 22nd Major crown at Roland Garros, remaining perfect at his favorite event and lifting the 14th title from as many finals.
Rafael Nadal played his 30th Major final at Roland Garros.
Nadal defeated Jordan Thompson, Corentin Moutet and Botic Van De Zandschulp in straight sets in the opening three rounds to preserve energy and his troubled foot.
Rafa had to work much harder in the fourth round, as Felix Auger-Aliassime pushed him to the limits. In his rare clay-court five-setter, Nadal raised his level in the decider to topple the young gun and advance into the quarter-final.
In a clash of titans, Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 in four hours and 12 minutes. The Spaniard dethroned the Serb after a remarkable comeback in the fourth set, trailing 5-2 and facing two set points on the return in game nine.
Novak squandered his chances, and Rafa sealed the deal in the tie break to find himself in the semi-final. Nadal experienced another thriller against Alexander Zverev, and they battled for over three hours before the second set ended!
Nadal fended off four set points at 2-6 in the opening set's tie break and claimed it after 91 minutes. Zverev had the advantage in the second set and broke Nadal four times in a row for a 5-3 lead. Rafa pulled the break back, and they were ready for the second time break before Alexander experienced a nasty ankle injury that forced him to retire.
Nadal had an easier job in the title clash and toppled Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in two hours and 18 minutes, extending his Roland Garros authority and writing history books.