French Open Tennis Champions, Hail to the New King, Rafael Nadal
There is a single young man who has gripped international tennis by the throat in recent months and he is the unequivocal King of Clay, the incredible Rafael Nadal. The muscle-bound athlete from Majorca has literally walked away with all the titles and accolades, bar one, the elusive Australian Open. He is heading straight for a fifth consecutive win at the 2009 French Open and there is hardly any player standing in his way.
First ATP Title at Fifteen!
Nadal first burst onto the scene as a young, ‘wet behind the ears’, fifteen year-old and before he could even celebrate his ‘coming of age’ at sweet sixteen he had already bagged his maiden ATP title. A year later, 2003, was his watershed year – he ended the season ranked in the top 50, becoming the second youngest man in the open era ever to achieve this remarkable acceleration in form.
It was in 2004 the immature seventeen year old first took on the man who would become his Nemesis in the years ahead, the incomparable former World number one, Roger Federer…..and he won! From then on in their rivalry has probably sparked one of the biggest revivals of the game in modern history and they have traded blows at virtually every major Masters Series tournament and in the vast majority of Grand Slam showdowns!
Superior 2008 Season
Nadal really only came of age in the 2008 season, the year he managed to topple the Swiss Precision Machine from his lofty perch atop the ATP rankings. It was the first season he claimed a grand slam title that was not on clay, the Wimbledon Championships in London, and boy, was it a match of scintillating proportions! It seemed a great shame that one of the combatants had to bow out of the epic four hour & 48 minute battle empty-handed! Even the notoriously gruff John McEnroe, who, himself, won at the All England Club, rated it as "the greatest match I have ever seen."
The young Gladiator marched on to the Beijing Summer Olympics and without too much of a fuss, claimed the Gold, becoming the first professional men’s tennis player ranked in the top five of the ATP ranking to win the highest honour of the greatest sports show on earth!
Nadal’s next conquest is the US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York and although he has never lifted the title of the final grand slam of the year, odds are he can add it to his long list of accomplishments in the 2008 season!
Nadal’s Notable Records
- He is the only man, other than the great Bjorn Borg, to have won 4 French Open titles on the trot.
- He is one of only three men who have won both the French Open and the Wimbledon Championships in a single calendar year
- He had to wait a long, agonising 160 weeks before he could dethrone the incumbent King of Tennis, Roger Federer.
- He owns the longest single-surface winning streak of the Open era having claimed 81 consecutive victories on clay
- He has a 22-1 record in clay court tournament finals