Rafael Nadal: His 10 Greatest Wins
It was his eighth successive Monte Carlo title and his first victory over Djokovic since the 2010 U.S. Open final.
The world No. 2 has amassed 47 ATP titles—10 of these being Grand Slams.
He has also collected 563 wins during his time on the ATP World Tour.
Here, I focus on his 10 biggest victories.
2012 Monte Carlo Final vs. Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal finally found the recipe towards defeating Novak Djokovic.
While keeping in mind that Djokovic was not completely in it mentally due to the death of his grandfather a week earlier, a big part of what Nadal did differently from the last seven times he played (which were all losses) was to come in with a much bigger serve and heavier groundstrokes.
This earned Nadal his eighth consecutive Monte Carlo title by a dominant score of 6-3, 6-1.
2011 French Open Final vs. Roger Federer
It is well known that throughout the years of the Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer rivalry, Nadal has an upper edge on Federer almost every time they step on the court.
Nadal is known as "The King of Clay" and he came into this match as a five-time champion in Paris.
And he made it six titles when he defeated Federer 7-5, 7-6(3), 5-7, 6-1.
2005 Rome Final vs. Guillermo Coria
In a match that is known as one of the greatest in Masters tournament history, Nadal defeated proven clay-court master Guillermo Coria 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(6).
At the time, Nadal was just 18 years old and had also won big tournaments in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
The confidence Nadal gained from those stretch of tournaments would certainly continue on in Paris for the 2005 French Open.
2005 French Open Semifinal vs Roger Federer
Coming into the 2005 French Open, Roger Federer was looking at a chance to earn his fifth Grand Slam title and in the process earn a Career Grand Slam by winning all four majors.
The problem for Federer was that there was a teenage clay genius from Spain that had already claimed three clay-court titles that year.
When they met in the semifinals of Roland Garros in 2005, the young Nadal put on a show. He took the first set and was on a mission from there on, defeating Federer and earning his first Grand Slam final berth 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
Nadal continued his momentum by defeating Mariano Puerta in four sets in the final.
2009 Madrid Semifinal vs. Novak Djokovic
Ask any avid tennis fan about this match and they will most likely respond by telling you the quality of tennis in it was certainly the greatest you will ever see in a non-Grand Slam tournament.
In just over four hours, Nadal defeated Djokovic 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(9) in a match where Nadal served three match points in the third-set tiebreak.
Do yourself a favor and YouTube this match; it has some absolutely unreal shot making—especially the aforementioned tiebreaker.
2008 French Open Final vs. Roger Federer
This match was by no stretch of the imagination a classic, but it makes the list because Nadal played almost perfectly in beating then world No. 1 Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.
Nadal played with a perfect blend of precision and power, winning 68 percent of his points on service points and 59 percent on return points.
Can you imagine that?
Nadal won 59 percent of return points against a guy who is widely regarded as the best tennis player of all time.
2009 Australian Open Semifinal vs. Fernando Verdasco
When the game started though, it was clear Verdasco was playing the best tennis of his career and would give Nadal a very tough test.
However, in the end Nadal was too good and defeated Verdasco 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-7(1), 6-4 in an Australian Open record-breaking time of five hours and 14 minutes.
It is still widely regarded as the best match Verdasco has ever played, yet Nadal's level of play sent Verdasco home with a heartbreaking loss and gave Nadal his first career berth in an Australian Open Final.
2009 Australian Open Final vs. Roger Federer
Coming off the heels of his epic semifinal against Verdasco, Nadal defeated Federer in another five-set epic, 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-2.
What made this victory even more incredible and extremely impressive was that the match started less than 24 hours after he defeated Verdasco.
That game lasted five hours and 14 minutes. The next evening, he defeated Federer in nearly four and a half hours.
This has to be one of the greatest—if not the greatest—physical achievements in tennis history.
Not only did winning that match stop Federer from tying Pete Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam titles, but it also gave Nadal his first Australian Open crown and his sixth Grand Slam championship.
2010 U.S. Open Final vs. Novak Djokovic
Rafael Nadal came into the 2010 U.S. Open final looking to grab a Career Grand Slam—in fact, a Golden Slam, as he had won the 2008 Olympic title in Beijing.
Djokovic on the other hand had loads of confidence coming into the match, as he had just defeated Roger Federer in a five-set thriller, saving a match point.
Right from the beginning it was clear that Nadal was not to be denied the title as he won the first set and went on to win the match by a score of 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.
By so doing, Nadal became the seventh male player to earn a career Grand Slam and the second male alongside Andre Agassi to earn a Career Golden Slam.
2008 Wimbledon Final vs. Roger Federer
Is there even a question about what No. 1on this list is?
In a match that is recognized as the greatest tennis match of all time, it went to Nadal after an incredible four hours, 48 minutes by a score of 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-7(8), 9-7.
Despite the five-set win, he had an opportunity to take it in four as he squandered two match points, mostly thanks to the genius shot making of Federer.
The play was like nothing anyone had ever seen before and lasted until the dying minutes before Federer hit a forehand into the net. Nadal responded by falling down on the grass-turned-dirt.
He'd just won his fifth Grand Slam title—and first Wimbledon crown.