Rafael Nadal: Why We Need a 'Rafa Slam' in Men's Tennis

Eric NeilContributor IJanuary 14, 2011

Can Nadal match an 85-year-old record?
Can Nadal match an 85-year-old record?Mark Dadswell/Getty Images

Regardless of the comparative merits of a "calendar" grand slam and a "consecutive" (four in a row spanning two seasons) grand slam, I think we have waited too long for either.

Consider that the last calendar slam was achieved in 1969 by Rod Laver and the last consecutive slam by Don Budge in 1926, and you get my point.

In the men's game today we enjoy an embarrassment of talent and depth that has seen lorry loads of records broken and set. Former players like Borg, Lendl, Sampras and Agassi all pushed modern records to where they are today.

Think about it: Even Mats Wilander, a relatively forgotten player, came within two matches of the calendar slam back in 1988. But, in all this time, no one player has ever slotted the four pieces together.

Records yearn to be broken. For the last few years it had been assumed that Roger Federer would be the man to end the grand slam drought, but that was before Rafael Nadal set up shop at Roland Garros.

Years earlier, the main hope was Bjorn Borg but alas he was never able to break his duck at the US Open, and other fine champions such as Boris Becker simply never found their "feet of clay."

In short, the time has come. 

Tennis needs this, and Nadal needs an exclusive niche of his own before he can truly divorce himself from the spectre of Federer. It would also be an incredible journey by the Spaniard who was once regarded as a one-dimensional, albeit stupendous claycourter who would never master other surfaces.

And now, his final hurdle is a tournament he has already won before. If Nadal doesn't convert this chance now, one feels that we may be waiting many more years before the "Rocket" from Australia is usurped.