No man in the history of tennis had won a single Grand Slam nine times. Before the French Open final, critics were writing off four-time defending champion Rafael Nadal, who has been struggling with injuries for a while. Despite having lost just one match in 10 years at Roland Garros, a disappointing claycourt season and four consecutive losses to Novak Djokovic didn’t work in his favour. Nadal lost the opening set. Only thrice before had the Spaniard won a Major after losing the first set of a final. Here too, Djokovic had the edge because he had never lost a Grand Slam final after winning the first set.
But history has a way of defying itself. After 211 minutes, it was the Spaniard who stood taller than the Eiffel Tower. Nadal won the French Open a record ninth time, fifth time in a row. His 14th Grand Slam drew him level with Pete Sampras, second on the all-time list. Roger Federer’s 17 is now a shouting distance away. His win gives rise to the debate of G.O.A.T—Greatest Of All Time. Nadal’s records in Paris are staggering and every year, he continues to rise like a phoenix. Injuries have been his greatest enemy but time and again he has overcome them.
His comeback after a seven-month injury layoff in 2013 was more than commendable as he went on to add two more Majors to his kitty. Nadal may not possess Federer’s grace but he is a fighter. He fights every point as if his life depends on it and even when his body gives in, like it did in the Australian Open final, he never gives up. Nadal is the undisputed king of clay. As to being the G.O.A.T, he is definitely one of the top contenders. The distribution of his Grand Slams might be skewed but his domination at one Major cannot dilute his achievements. He has, after all, won on every surface. Disputed or undisputed, Nadal is on the verge of becoming the greatest ever.