Winning a major title is always a great achievement. Beating seven opponents in two weeks requires exceptional performance and composed tennis in a best-of-five challenge. This achievement becomes even more exclusive when we talk about players who won a major title without losing a group, with only five names on that roster in the Open Era.
Ken Roswell did so at the 1971 Australian Open, and Ellie Nastas followed him at Roland Garros two years later. Between 1976 and 1980, the brilliant Bjorn Borg achieved this feat three times at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and remained the record holder for four decades!
Bjorn was the last major champion without dropping a set until 2007, when Roger Federer joined him at the Australian Open. The Swiss stopped the clock and repeated the task at Wimbledon 2017 at around 36! Rafael Nadal overshadowed the aforementioned competitors by dominating one major like never before.
The Spaniard became the first player to win four major titles without dropping a set, and he achieved it in beloved Paris two years ago. Nadal won the Roland Garros title in dominant style in 2008 and 2010. He stood strong again in 2017 to match Bjorn Borg before overtaking the great Swede in 2020.
On October 11th, Rafa clinched Roland Garros’ 13th crown from 16 trips to Paris, knocking out all seven contenders in straight sets to set an impressive record and join Roger Federer in 20 major championships! At the age of 34, Nadal endured all the efforts of Paris.
He overcame his opponents and defied circumstances to assert his greatness and write the record books 15 years after his first victory in the French capital. The Spaniard struggled with eight breaks in seven matches, delivered superb tennis on serve and came back to leave all opponents behind and claim his fourth consecutive title in Paris.
Rafael Nadal is the only player to have won four major titles and never lost a set.
Rafa knocked out Igor Gerasimov, MacKenzie MacDonald, Stefano Trafaglia and Sebastian Korda without breaking a sweat in the opening four rounds. The Mud King suffered one break and lost 23 matches (ten against Gerasimov in the first showdown) in 12 sets to sail to the quarter-finals and conserve energy.
Nadal worked hard against young Italian Yannick Sener, breaking twice and dropping 6-5 in the opening game to jeopardize the record. However, Rafa slipped at the last minute and won the second half to wrap up the opening set before winning the second set and standing strong in the third set to advance to the semi-finals.
Diego Schwartzman defeated Rafa in Rome a few weeks ago but did not stand a chance in Paris. Nadal missed a huge lead in the third set, and Schwartzman gained momentum in the second to reach the tiebreak. However, Nadal won 7-0 to seal the deal in style and move on to the XIII Roland Garros final.
The most challenging hurdle was between Rafael Nadal and the title, with a world record. 1 Novak Djokovic standing on the other side of the net. Like those before him, Novak had nothing to offer against the great Rafa, who took a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory in 2 hours 41 minutes to celebrate his fourth title without dropping a set!
Nadal had 31 winners, 14 unintentional fouls and a solid performance from both wings to take 51% of the return points and control the scoreboard. Novak made 52 unforced errors, hunted for his A-game for over two hours and suffered a heavy loss despite strong efforts in the third set.
Rafa lost serve once, which wasn’t enough for Novak to stay comfortable. Just like in 2008 against Roger Federer, Nadal made a cake in the opening set, played nearly flawless tennis and made three breaks against the world’s leading player.
Rafa faced no break points in the second set, taming his strikes well and outselling Djokovic to come back with another powerful tennis set and an advantage 6-0, 6-2. Keen to avoid disaster, Novak saved a break opportunity in the third match of the third set and raised his level.
Rafa broke him in love in the fifth game and gave serve for the first and only time a few minutes later, giving Djokovic a much-needed boost. Nadal held out comfortably in the eighth, tenth and 12th games, took a break at 5-5 after Novak’s double fault and sealed the deal with a grand celebration for the twentieth title.