Ranking Rafael Nadal’s Best Tennis Major Wins of His Career

| March 19, 2022 7:00 am PDT
Rafael Nadal in the middle, decorative tennis court in the background, other images of Nadal

On September 24, 2001, Rafael Nadal played his first professional tennis match. Over the next 21+ years, the Spanish player has won over 100 events, 22 of which were Grand Slam tournaments.

On his road to tennis stardom, Nadal overcame many obstacles. However, the GOAT candidate managed to go past them and record some vintage wins. Let’s focus on those wins now – here are the top seven wins of his career!

1. Win Over Federer in the Semifinal of 2005 French Open

Rafael Nadal was born on June 3, 1986, and was just 19 years and two days old when he won his first-ever major tournament – the 2005 French Open.

On the road to his first title, Nadal had to defeat several true heavyweights, including Roger Federer. Then a 23-year-old, Federer was the #1 seed and was expected to cruise past to the final. However, Nadal had other plans.

Despite entering the match as an underdog, Nadal started strong, winning the first set 6-3. Federer equalized in the second set (6-4), but the Spanish teenager bounced back, winning the next two sets (6-4 and 6-3).

2. Win Over Federer at 2008 Wimbledon

Three years after defeating Federer for the first time, Nadal did it again. This time, it wasn’t in France but the UK. Still, one thing was the same as before – Federer was seen as a huge favorite before the match.

The reason why everyone thought the Swiss would win was that he had won the Wimbledon trophy each time in the previous five years.

The two rivals played a 5-set marathon match that lasted four hours and 48 minutes – the longest final in the tournament’s history.

Even though both of them were running on fumes in the final set, it was Nadal who managed to keep his cool and win the decisive points.

3. Win Over Verdasco at the 2009 Australian Open

If you thought Nadal’s battle with Federer at Wimbledon lasted long, wait to learn about his clash with Fernando Verdasco. Played in the 2009 Australian Open semifinal, the match lasted for five hours and 14 minutes.

The reason why it lasted for so long is that both players were in terrific shape. Both seemed as if they were unable to make mistakes – both had won 192 points each until the final game.

After saving two match points, Verdasco lost his nerve, serving a double-fault that gave his rival the win.

4. Win Over Djokovic at the 2010 US Open

In 2010, Rafa won his first US Open. And he did it in style! He reached the final without losing a single set. Then, in the title match, he played against Novak Djokovic.

Nadal started strong, winning the first set 6-4. Djokovic fought back in the second set, getting to 7-5 in games. Then, Nadal completely broke his opponent, winning the next two sets by 6-4 and 6-2, respectively.

It was a vintage performance for the Spanish player, but more importantly, the win carved his name in history books. By winning the 2010 US Open, Nadal became the first player since 1969 to win three Grand Slam tournaments in one calendar year.

On top of that, he became the first person in tennis history to win major tournaments on hard, grass, and clay courts within one year.

5. Win Over Djokovic at the 2013 French Open

In 2013, Nadal was the defending champion of the French Open. However, the Spanish player wasn’t playing his best tennis ahead of the tournament, having just come off a seven-month hiatus due to an injury. When the tournament started, he was sitting in the #4 position in the ATP Rankings.

After a couple of relatively easy matches, Nadal entered the semifinal stage where the world #1 Novak Djokovic was waiting for him.

The Serbian player was the favorite, not just because he was ranked better at the time, but also because he had a special incentive to win the tournament – the French Open was the only major he hadn’t won at the time.

As you’d imagine, another marathon match followed. With both players giving their utmost, the match was decided in the fifth set, which went in Nadal’s favor 9-7. When Nadal hit the match-winner, the clock was showing 4:37.

6. Win Over Wawrinka at the 2017 French Open

After winning his ninth French Open title in 2014, Rafael Nadal hit a rough patch. A wrist injury, appendicitis, and many other problems hit the Spaniard, resulting in a Grand Slam drought that lasted for three years.

However, in 2017, the Nadal resurrection started. He entered his favorite major – the French Open – and held a real tennis masterclass on the clay courts of Roland Garros.

Nadal went on to win every single set in the 2017 French Open, dropping just 35 games across seven matches.

In the final, Nadal outclassed Stan Wawrinka 3-0 (6-2, 6-3, 6-1) in just two hours and 5 minutes, which was one of the shortest finals in the history of the tournament.

By beating Wawrinka, Nadal won his tenth French Open title, thus breaking the record for most titles at a single Grand Slam tournament.

7. Win Over Daniil Medvedev at 2022 Australian Open

It wouldn’t be an overstatement to call the 2022 Australian Open one of the strangest Grand Slam tournaments in history. What made it strange was that the world #1 Novak Djokovic was refused entry to Australia.

Before the whole sage, Novak was a clear favorite to win the title, with the odds being as short as +180 at some of the top tennis betting sites. With Djokovic out of the tournament, the world #2, Daniil Medvedev, took the top of the favorites list.

Until the tournament’s final match, it seemed that the bookmakers were right to favor the Russian. Even in the final, it looked as if Medvedev would win the title – he was 2-0 up after two hours of play.

After losing the first two sets to Medvedev (6-2, 7-6), Nadal switched up a gear, winning the next three (6-4, 6-4, 7-5).

Exhausted Nadal dropped an F-bomb while describing the match, calling it one of the most emotional duels of his career. It was emotional, not only because he won the title after five hours and 24 minutes but also for the fact that it was his 21st major title.

By doing that, he left two of his main rivals behind – Djokovic and Federer – who have 20 titles each.

The battle for the GOAT status between these three will continue in 2022, with Nadal having an upper hand. The next Grand Slam on the calendar is his favorite tournament – the French Open – where he has a chance to win his 14th title.

Love reading about tennis legends? Find more tennis content at our tennis blog.

Zarko Naric
Zarko Naric

Zarko Naric – the World's Greatest Sportswriter, according to his grandma.

Zarko started writing for GamblingSites.com in 2019, covering sports like soccer, tennis, and basketball,  as well as some more niche sports like cycling, for example.

In addition to writing news, picks, and blog pieces focused on sports, Zarko’s also been covering politics, TV/music contests, and so on.

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