Since the beginning of the Open era in 1968, only eight players have reached more than 12 Major finals. Jimmy Connors did that, first, followed by Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl. Greatest players from the 90s, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi also joined the list before Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic stole the show, competing in 86 Major finals and leaving all the legends from the past far behind.
Collecting 13 Major finals is an impressive feat that becomes even more exclusive when we think about Rafael Nadal's record at Roland Garros. On Sunday, Nadal became the first player in the Open era with 13 finals at a single Major, moving in front of Roger Federer, the 12-time finalist at Wimbledon.
Rafa and Roger are the only players with more than eight title matches at a single Major, earning the records on the beloved surfaces and looking good to hold them for good if Novak Djokovic fails to catch them in New York or Melbourne, standing on eight finals at each.
Instead of May and June, Rafa had to chase another impressive run in Paris in October, battling cold weather and the new Wilson balls. Having to change some elements of his game and become more aggressive, Nadal produced an incredible level of tennis, getting broken eight times in seven encounters and toppling all the rivals on the return to add the 20th Major crown to his tally.
At 34, Nadal became the third-oldest champion in Paris, embracing his fourth Roland Garros journey without losing a set and lifting the 60th ATP title in a career, 16 years after the first one in Sopot. Rafa made a debut in Paris in 2005 at 18, winning the title and suffering only two losses at Roland Garros in the next 15 appearances, never after reaching the semi-final round!
In the first encounter, Nadal ousted Egor Gerasimov, dropping only 13 games in the following 12 sets versus Mackenzie McDonald, Stefano Travaglia and Sebastian Korda to advance into the quarters.
Rafael Nadal became the first player with 13 finals at a single Major.
The young Italian Jannik Sinner pushed Rafa to the limits in the opening two sets, serving for the first at 6-5 but losing it in the tie break.
Nadal gained control to seal the deal in straight sets, setting another tough clash against Diego Schwartzman. In another powerful performance, Rafa scored a 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 victory, losing ground a bit in the second part of the third set but fixing that in the tie break to advance into the 13th Roland Garros final and steal a massive record from Roger Federer.
Battling for the 20th Major title and 13th in Paris, Nadal defeated world no. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes, producing impressive numbers on both serve and return to seal the deal in style and write the record books.