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Time to check in with Rafael Nadal's French Open historical update. After all, every match is a new mark for history. Today, we will use bilateral symmetry to examine his 62-1 record.
From 2005-09, Nadal won 31 straight matches and four straight French Open titles before falling in the fourth round to Robin Soderling.
From 2010-14 (through the third round), Nadal has won 31 straight matches and four straight French Open titles. He is a heavy favorite for his fourth-round match versus Dusan Lajovic.
Let's compare both halves of the Nadal dynasty. Which run is more impressive? Was Nadal better in his early years or his latter half?
Young Nadal was more of a defensive retriever. He was ascending the ladder to his best years and his main obstacle was rival Roger Federer, at the peak of his career.
His early clay-court competition featured the likes Guillermo Coria, Gaston Gaudio, Carlos Moya, David Nalbandian and young Novak Djokovic.
Prime Nadal has more offensive power and experience. He has primarily had to turn back rival Djokovic, at the peak of his career. His more recent clay-court competition has included Soderling, Andy Murray, Stanislas Wawrinka and a contingent of Spanish players including a stronger David Ferrer.
On the one hand, Nadal's impressive composure and championship determination during his teenage years and early 20s were extraordinary.
While other players shrunk away from Federer, Nadal always had the strength of mind to compete with his unique skills. He grew into a champion with a self-made kind of creativity and attack that is unique to tennis history.
But maybe Nadal's second half is more impressive. He has had to fend off various challenges, including John Isner's five-set challenge in the 2011 first round.
There have been more opponents and blueprints that have tried in vain to defeat Nadal at Roland Garros. Most importantly, he still has a chance to extend this second wave. A fifth straight French Open title would close this conversation for good.