Roger Federer ends notable streak on 20, allowing Rafael Nadal to catch him if..



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Roger Federer ends notable streak on 20, allowing Rafael Nadal to catch him if..

Roger Federer reached his first ATP final in Marseille 2000 at 18, losing to a compatriot Marc Rosset in the deciding tie break and waiting for a year to grab the first ATP trophy. Following two ATP finals in 2000, Roger would play in at least one title match for 20 consecutive seasons, staying competitive for two decades and leaving Jimmy Connors on 19 straight years with at least one ATP final on his tally.

Roger achieved that in 2019 when he was still at the top of his gamer, securing the Masters 1000 trophy in Miami and wasting two match points in the Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic. Hoping for more of the same in the season behind us, Roger reached the Australian Open semi-final following tight victories over John Millman and Tennys Sandgren, struggling with an injury and having nothing left in the tank ahead of a Novak Djokovic clash.

That proved to be Roger's last official match of the season, undergoing two knee surgeries in February and May and deciding to skip the rest of the year and switch focus on 2021. Thus, Federer's record-breaking streak of 20 consecutive seasons with one ATP final had to come to its end just a year after moving in front of Connors.

Only four years after Roger, an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal competed in his first ATP final in Sopot 2004, reaching the top-10 next April and never leaving the elite group despite many setbacks due to injuries. Even in his worst years in 2015 and 2016, Nadal was able to lift at least two ATP trophies and extend his streak, currently standing on 17 consecutive seasons with one ATP final, three behind Federer.

Nadal moved in front of Ivan Lendl (16 years and almost the entire career) when he reached the final in Acapulco in February, winning the first title of the season following a victory over Taylor Fritz.

Rafael Nadal has played in one ATP final for 17 consecutive seasons.

It came in a perfect moment for the Spaniard who had previously lost the ATP throne to Novak Djokovic after the Australian Open.

Due to the coronavirus, Nadal had to stay at home between March and September, staying away from the court in March and April and making a slow return in May. Skipping the season restart in New York (Cincinnati and the US Open), Rafa competed for the first time in almost seven months in Rome, losing in the quarter-final before heading all the way at his beloved Roland Garros, securing the 20th Major title to join Roger Federer at the top of the list.

If he stays healthy in the next couple of years, Nadal should match Roger's record of consecutive seasons with one ATP final in 2023, still standing as the player to beat on clay.