The Spaniard reached 100 victories in the tournament, clinched his 13th title there and reached Roger Federer’s 20 Grand Slams.
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. Thirteen titles in fifteen presentations, just two defeats and unprecedented dominance, which was extended 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 was the second seeded, behind Novak Djokovic. But by history he was the great candidate to lift the trophy on Sunday in the French capital, where he wrote three new milestones in his career.
On the one hand, Rafa added the 13th title to establish himself as the top winner in history in this contest. Although that personal record is not in danger. The Mallorcan already surpasses the Swedish Björn Borg by seven and the Czech Ivan Lendl, the Brazilian, by ten Gustavo Kuerten and another Swede, Mats Wilander.
He also added his 20th Grand Slam to equal Federer’s mark, who alone led the statistics 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 racks up a title in Melbourne, two in London, four in New York and an impressive 13 in Paris. Third on that list is Djokovic, with 17.
The last great achievement Nadal was looking for was reach 100 wins in the “big” French, where he only suffered two falls. 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.
Nadal also became the second player in history to surpass the hundred games 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, where he won 60 of his 86 titles, the Spaniard has a record of 440 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 1000 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 semifinals in Rio de Janeiro and in the second round in Barcelona, also in 2015. Schwartzman, who beat him three weeks ago in the quarterfinals in Rome, had the chance to add his name to that select group but lost in the semifinals of Roland Garros.
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 was written in that epic romance between Rafa and Paris.