Roland Garros, or the French Open, is a tennis tournament that is played every year in Paris, France. With a 129 year-long tradition, it is one of the four most famous Grand Slam tournaments. Players in both male and female competition fight on clay type of turf, all wanting to be crowned kings and queens of the Roland Garros.
It is a tremendous honor to win any tournament from the great four of the Grand Slam: Roland Garros, Australian Open, Wimbledon or US Open, they are all prestigious and elite events that happen once a year in the world of tennis. There are several categories in which the players participate in: singles, doubles, and mixed-doubles (the mix means that one male and one female athlete make the duo). With hundreds wanting to win the title in the French Open, there is one person that stands out from the rest.
The absolute king of the French Open, this Spanish tennis player, has won the tournament 12 times. The level of gameplay that Nadal has continued to show over more than a decade is nothing short of impressive. He was and practically still is at 33 years old, untouchable when it comes to winning on clay types of surfaces.
Nadal is always a force to be reckoned with on all those red fields of dirt in Paris. First of all, Nadal plays with his left hand, which can immediately throw off the majority of players of the ATP Tour, as more than 90% of them use the right hand as their dominant. He is super-fast when playing behind the baseline and can catch almost any drop shot people attempt against him. He is probably the deadliest when it comes to counter-attacking, hitting all of those highlight-reel shots when you least expect them. All of this has led Nadal to incredible success in the French Open.
Four In A Row (2005-2008)
His first win there came in 2005 when he was only 19 years old. In the finals, he defeated Mariano Puerta. That accomplishment is even more impressive because this was the first time Nadal competed in Roland Garros. The only other player who achieved the same thing was Mats Wilander, on his first shot at the French Open in 1982.
The first win in the elite class of tournaments seemed to inspire Nadal quite a lot. The whole of next year, he did not lose a single match on clay courts played in the ATP season. A year later, after his first win, Nadal repeated more of the same - defeating Roger Federer. This was a novel experience for Federer, too, as this was the first time he lost in the finals of a Grand Slam.
A year later, in 2007, the same scenario - Nadal defeated Federer in the finals again. Unfortunately for the Swiss maestro, he could not stop Nadal in the 2008 finals either. Nadal was unstoppable as he gave Federer a bagel in the finals, winning 6-0 in the third set.
Five In A Row (2010-2014)
In the 2010 French Open finals match, only the challenger changed, but the outcome was the same. Nadal won against Robin Söderling, winning his fifth Roland Garros without losing a single set throughout the whole tournament. A year later, his old victim Federer was again on the other side of the court, but Nadal pulled out another victory in a much more evenly matched game in the finals.
In the 2012 finals, an event that even had to be stopped in the middle of the match because of rain, Nadal won against the Serbian number 1, Novak Đoković. With this win, Rafael Nadal surpassed Bjorn Borg on the all-time best French Open history, claiming his seventh title.
In 2013 and 2014, Nadal continued to dominate, winning once against David Ferrer and Novak Đoković in a reprise of the finals that happened two years ago.
Three In A Row...Or More? (2017 - ?)
An extraordinary, 10th win in the French Open came after a win against another Swiss player, Stan Wawrinka in 2017. This time, again, Nadal went flying through the tournament, never losing a set. The next year, however, he did lose one single set, but he still ended up winning against Dominic Thiem in the finals. Just last year, Nadal repeated the same thing: only lost one set, and prevailed against Thiem in the 2019 finals.
Where does it all end, can Nadal win yet another title this year? We will not wait for too long to find out, as the 2020 Roland Garros starts on the 24th of May.