If the Spaniard beats Djokovic, he will reach 100 victories in the tournament, claim his 13th title there and reach 20 Grand Slams for Roger Federer.
To speak of brick dust and Roland Garros is to speak of Rafael Nadal. The Spanish made his debut in this tournament in 2005 and over the years became the undisputed king of Paris. The player everyone wants to beat every year, when the action of the circuit reaches the complex of Bois de Boulogne. Twelve titles in fifteen presentations, just two defeats and unprecedented dominance, which he hopes to extend in this special edition of the French Grand Slam to further enlarge his legend and reach the 20 “greats” of Roger Federer.
As number two in the world, the Mallorcan is the second seed, behind Novak Djokovic, his rival in the final. But by history he is the great candidate to lift the trophy on Sunday in the French capital, where he could write three new milestones in his career.
On the one hand, he wants to add the 13th title to establish himself as the maximum winner in history in this contest. Although that personal record is not in danger. The Mallorcan already surpasses the Swedish Björn Borg by six and the Czech Ivan Lendl, the Brazilian, by nine Gustavo Kuerten and another Swede, Mats Wilander.
He also wants to add his 20th Grand Slam to match Federer’s mark, who leads the statistic of top champions in tournaments in this category. The Swiss conquered the Australian Open six times, one Roland Garros, eight Wimbledon and five the US Open.
Nadal accumulates a title in Melbourne, two in London, four in New York and an impressive dozen in Paris. Third on that list is Djokovic, with 17.
The last great achievement that Nadal seeks is reach 100 wins in the “big” French. He’s been 99 since he debuted 15 years ago and only two crashes. The first, in the second round of 2009 against the Swede Robin Soderling. The second, in the quarters of 2015 against Djokovic. In 2016 he did not appear to play due to injury in the third round and was awarded a walk over to his compatriot Marcel Granollers.
Therefore, if this Sunday he beats Djokovic, in addition to shouting champion, he will celebrate his 100th triumph in Paris.
He would become the second player in history to surpass the hundred matches won in a Grand Slam. Who was the first? Federer, who accumulates 102 in Australia and 101 in Wimbledon.
The legend of Rafa brick dust is not just limited to Roland Garros. On that orange surface, in which he won 59 of his 85 titles, the Spaniard has a record of 438 wins and just 40 losses. And there is a fact that still dimensions that domain: only two players managed to beat him on slow courts in the same season.
Djokovic did it twice. In 2011, he beat him in the finals of the Masters 1,000 in Madrid and Rome and became the only one to beat him in two consecutive powder tournaments. And again in 2015, when he defeated him in the Monte Carlo semis and the Roland Garros quarterfinals.
The other is the Italian Fabio Fognini, who beat him in the ATP semi-finals in Rio de Janeiro and in the last 16 in Barcelona, also in 2015. On the other hand, Schwartzman, who beat him three weeks ago in the quarter-finals in Rome, He could not join that select group because he lost without extenuating by 6-3, 6-3 and 7-6 (7-0) the semifinal on Friday.
Rafael Nadal is a living tennis legend. But even more so if you talk about brick dust and Roland Garros. And this weekend another chapter could be written in that epic romance between Rafa and Paris.