After more than two decades on tour, what are Rafael Nadal’s five biggest moments?


Roland Garros looks likely to be the last tournament of Rafael Nadal’s illustrious 23-year career. Without doubt the French Open was the Major in which the Spaniard enjoyed his best tennis. Nadal’s performances on clay were the most dominant the sport has ever seen on a particular surface – and make up 14 of his 22 Grand Slam triumphs.

As the curtain falls, here are the five biggest moments of Rafael Nadal’s career.

5. Olympic Gold Medal (2008)

After two consecutive Major wins in the months prior, Nadal won Olympic Gold in a straight sets victory over Fernando Gonzalez of Chile on hardcourt, his biggest success up until that point on the surface. Nadal became the World No.1 for the first time in his career, ending the dominant run rival Roger Federer had enjoyed that is still the longest reign in history.

4. Come-from-behind Australian Open crown (2022)

Nadal fought back from two sets down against Daniil Medvedev in the final to win his second Australian Open and complete the Career Grand Slam twice. Dubbed “the miracle in Melbourne”, it was one of the greatest comebacks in the history of Major finals. It was a record-breaking 21 Major’s won for a male player and saw Nadal overtake his big three counterparts, who were both on 20 at the time.

Rafael Nadal celebrates match point in his Australian Open Men’s Singles Final. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

3. Rafa completes the set (2010)

Nadal’s maiden title at the US Open, this victory completed the set of all four Majors. Not only did Nadal’s victory over Novak Djokovic mean he had completed the Career Grand Slam, but it also meant he was only the second man in history to achieve the Career Golden Slam, after Andre Agassi. The pair are the only two players in history to win all four Slams, as well as winning Olympic Gold.

2. First Grand Slam title at Roland Garros (2005)

The first Major of Nadal’s career, he came from a set down to defeat Mariano Puerta and claim the first of 14 titles in Paris. This was the beginning of a run of four consecutive wins at the French Open, before losing in the semi-final in 2009 in the same year Federer was finally able to win what would be his only trophy there, mainly due to the dominance of Nadal.

The Spaniard won five in a row from 2010 to 2014. No player has dominated a Major the way the Spaniard dominated in Paris, winning 112 out of 115 matches on the French clay.

1. Breakthrough at SW19 (2008)

The 2008 Wimbledon final is widely regarded as not only the greatest final ever to be played at the All England Club, but as the greatest tennis match of all time. By this time Nadal had established himself as the King of Clay but had come up short on grass to Federer in the two previous finals.

Federer was at the top of his game during these years, and would have made it five consecutive titles at Wimbledon had he toppled Nadal in the final. After five sets, Nadal came out victorious and had showed that he was able to compete with Federer, not just on clay, but on the surface and at the Major Federer dominated the most throughout his career.

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