Rafael Nadal has won at least one ATP title on clay for the past 17 years, an outstanding record that will take some beating in the future! Nadal has been the dominant figure on the slowest surface since 2005, winning 445 out of 485 matches on his beloved dirt and standing strong at Roland Garros like no one before him at any Major.
Like many other champions, Pat Cash has praised Nadal's achievements on clay, calling his 13 Roland Garros titles an outstanding record that no one could have predicted 20 years ago. Winning the Parisian crown on debut in 2005, Nadal has lost only two matches in the French capital, celebrating 100 victories and lifting the 13th trophy on October 11.
At 34, Nadal experienced the strangest ever conditions at his beloved Major, facing cold and rainy weather, the new Wilson balls and a roof over Court Philipp Chatrier. Despite that, the Spaniard proved his greatness once again, beating all seven rivals in straight sets to write the record books and join Roger Federer on 20 Major crowns.
Rafa suffered only eight breaks in seven matches, delivering incredible tennis on both serve and return to leave the rivals far behind and conquer Paris for the fourth straight year. In the opening four rounds, Rafa ousted Egor Gerasimov, Mackenzie McDonald, Stefano Travaglia and Sebastian Korda without breaking a sweat to sail into the quarters.
He had to work hard against the young Italian Jannik Sinner, losing serve twice and trailing in sets one and two. Pulling the break back in the last moment of the opening set, Nadal took charge from the middle of the second to break Jannik's resistance and sailed through the third to book a semi-final spot.
Diego Schwartzman defeated Rafa in Rome but couldn't repeat that in Paris, as Nadal beat him 6-3, 6-3, 7-6. Diego pulled a break back in the third set to gain momentum and reach the tie break, only to lose it 7-0 and propel Rafa into the title match.
Pat Cash praised Rafael Nadal's Roland Garros record.
The most formidable obstacle stood between Nadal and the title, with world no. 1 Novak Djokovic seeking the second trophy in Paris. Like those before him, Novak had nothing to offer against Rafa, who toppled him 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes, winning the fourth Major crown without losing a set!
Rafa lost serve once, taming Novak's return and demolished him in the shortest rallies up to four strokes. Nadal delivered a bagel in the opening set for a perfect start, playing almost flawless tennis and providing three breaks against the world's leading player.
Rafa faced no break chances in set number two, still competing on a high level and outplaying Djokovic on the return for another rock-solid set of tennis and a 6-0, 6-2 advantage after a swift 94 minutes. Eager to avoid disaster, Djokovic saved a break point in the third game of the third set and broke back at 2-3 to extend his chances.
Nadal held comfortably in games eight, ten and 12, grabbed a break at 5-5 after a double fault from Novak and sealed the deal with a hold at love for a massive celebration of another milestone title. "Think of any football team that is simply unbeatable in any stadium or someone who wins the Tour de France year after year.
Nadal's 13 Roland Garros titles are incredible. If you had said that 20 years ago, they would have locked you in a mental hospital," Pat Cash said.