2005 was a special year at Roland Garros:
~ It was the first Grand Slam that Novak Djokovic made it past the first round
~ It was Stan Wawrinka’s first Grand Slam appearance
~ It was Andre Agassi’s last French Open appearance
A player called Rafael Nadal from the small town of Manacor on the Island of Mallorca debuted at Roland Garros and the rest is history.
Nadal came in as the fourth seed and was pretty untroubled on his route to the last eight. He defeated good friend and fellow Spaniard David Ferrer 7-5 6-2 6-0 before coming up against world number one Roger Federer.
Roger had defeated Nadal’s now coach Carlos Moya in the previous round but after a set a piece it was Rafael who advanced to his first Roland Garros final on his debut.
Mariano Puerta who was unseeded made it to the final, he saw off qualifier Stan Wawrinka and won a close tie-breaker against Rafa before the Spaniard went onto win his first Roland Garros title.
The same happened in 2006, 2007 and 2008!
Four in a row.
However a round for exit in 2009 to Robin Soderling is still one of the most talked about moments in Roland Garros history as he is only one of two people to this date to defeat Nadal in Paris.
2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 it was R. Nadal engraved on the trophy once again…
Novak Djokovic performed out of his skin in the 2015 quarter finals to see of Nadal in the final eight the year Wawrinka won.
An injury ended Rafa’s run in 2016 having to pull out before his third round match.
La Decima happened in 2017 and despite Dominic Thiem coming to the front of the challenge in 2018 and 2019 Rafa went onto win both titles winning an unmatched 12 majors at one event!
From the moment Rafa turned up in Paris in 2005 as an 18 year old he’s had that mental side of his game perfected. It was something spoken about by Andy and Novak in their Instagram Live not long ago that he’s always had that winners mentality and it’s something you just don’t see in younger players at all.
For the majority it’s about building that strength of character but he’s had it since day one. Whether he has had to continuously face the pressure of defending his Roland Garros title and bouncing back from injuries it’s been faultless.
Roland Garros records:
Wins – 93
Defeats – 2
Titles – 12
Sets Won – 278
Sets Lost – 28
Tie-breaks won – 17
Tie-breaks lost – 5
There were four occasions where he won the title without dropping a set and never lost more than four sets in an entire run!
25th of April 2020 celebrated an incredible 15 years since a certain Rafael Nadal made his top ten debut a day after winning his first title in Barcelona.
Since he made his top 10 debut in 2005 he has never left the top ten in men’s tennis which is unbelievable!
During this time he has missed over a year of tennis combined but when he comes back he’s right back at it, he is a phenomenon.