Although Rafael Nadal’s 2017 ended with him pulling out of the World Tour Finals and Paris Masters due to knee soreness, his performance during the 2017 season will be remembered as an incredible example of resilience. In one of the great comeback seasons of all-time, we saw the Spaniard capture two more Grand Slams, to bring his total to 16.
Below we review Rafa’s 10 greatest Grand Slam wins as far as importance to his career:
Top 10 Rafa Slams
10. Roland Garros 2008 vs Federer
This one makes the cut solely on dominance. Rafa captured his fourth French Open in 2008 like a walk in the park, dropping a grand total of zero sets the entire tournament. A Roger Federer at the top of his game awaited in the final wanting to upset the reigning champion. Instead, the Swiss maestro received the toughest beating of his career. The match lasted one hour and 48 minutes. A little too long for the 6-1 6-3 6-0 final score.
9. US Open 2013 vs Djokovic
Rafa’s 13th major victory came against Djokovic in a bizarre US Open that saw 10 seeded players lose in the first round. Rafa benefited from a wide open bottom part of the draw where the only threat seemed to be a quarter-final clash against Roger Federer. However, the Swiss failed to beat Tommy Robredo in the fourth round and Rafa advanced to the final losing only one set. The 37th meeting between the Serb and the Spaniard would go Rafa’s way in four sets.
8. Wimbledon 2010 vs Berdych
Anytime a player is crowned at the All England Club it has to count as one of the greatest career accomplishments. Rafa’s 2010 victory over an impressive Berdych came in the midst of Rafa’s best season so far (3 majors). At the top of the rankings and his game, Rafa had to overcome two five setters in the second and third rounds to win his second Wimbledon title.
7. US Open 2017 vs Kevin Anderson
Although the degree of difficulty could easily be argued, Rafa’s third victory at Flushing Meadows was the perfect ending to the greatest comeback season in recent memory. The Spaniard entered this year’s US Open in the midst of a hard fought battle with Roger Federer for the number one spot in the ATP ranking. Federer, diminished by a back injury sustained a month earlier in Montreal, exited the tournament in the quarters, leaving the draw wide open for Rafa to reach the final. Rafa beat an opportunistic Kevin Anderson in a landslide to grab a comfortable lead in the rankings. A lead that would prove to be too much for the Swiss maestro to overcome in the latter part of the season.
6. Roland Garros 2006 vs Federer
One year removed from his surprising victory as a teen, Rafa came back to Porte d’Auteuil even stronger. This time the adult version of Rafa dropped only 2 sets on his way to the final. He faced Roger Federer in a match that began a three-year span where the two would meet in each other’s backyards every year ending in the 2008 Wimbledon Final.
5. Roland Garros 2017 vs Wawrinka
Twelve years after capturing his first French Open title as a mere teenager, Rafa stepped onto the court seeking revenge against Stan Wawrinka. The Swiss had beaten Rafa in the 2014 Australian Open final, preventing the Spaniard to become the only player in the Open Era to win the four majors twice. This time Rafa dominated the matchup in three uncontested sets to snatch another record worth noting. Ten wins in a Grand Slam, two ahead of Roger Federer’s eight Wimbledon titles.
4. Australian Open 2009 vs Federer
This one could easily be ranked higher on spectacle alone. After finally achieving the impossible six months earlier by beating Roger Federer at the All England Club, Rafa would double down to bring his Grand Slam total to 6 and confirm his place at the top of the tennis world. Federer, helpless, couldn’t hold his tears in the postgame ceremony and by his own admission considered the loss to be the most painful of his career
3. US Open 2010 vs Djokovic
Rafa’s first victory at Flushing Meadows was as spectacular as it was significant. The world number one had accustomed the tennis world to his merciless dominance on clay courts. However, in the 2010 edition of the US Open, Rafa surfed through the hard courts of New York in the same fashion he consistently dominated the French courts of Porte d’Auteuil. Not dropping a set on his cruise to the final, Rafa bested Djokovic in four sets to become the seventh player all-time to complete a career Grand Slam
2. Roland Garros 2005 vs Mariano Puerta
Rafa’s first victory in a Grand Slam came so early in his career that it had to grab at least the second spot on the list. The 19-year-old Rafa dropped only two sets en route to the 2005 French Open final where he faced Mariano Puerta after defeating Roger Federer in the semis. Rafa dominated the matchup against the Argentinian in four sets to become the youngest Spaniard to ever win a Grand Slam title.
1. Wimbledon 2008 vs Federer
No surprise here. After facing off in the two previous Wimbledon Finals, the two rivals met again in 2008 in a match that would arguably go down as the greatest match ever played. Federer saved match points in the 4th set tiebreak to come back from 2 sets down. But this time history would go Rafa’s side in the decider. The celebration is memorable with Rafa jumping into the stands to salute the Royal Family. A breach in protocol glossed over by the show put forth on the court by the two champions.
- Tom is from Paris but now teaches French in Mexico. He has played tennis since he was a kid, and has always loved watching tennis.