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Rafael Nadal: What Would a Win at the 2011 French Open Mean for His Legacy?

Dimitri KayCorrespondent IMay 19, 2011

Rafael Nadal: What Would a Win at the 2011 French Open Mean for His Legacy?

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    PARIS - JUNE 06:  Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates with the trophy after winning the men's singles final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Robin Soderling of Sweden on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 6, 2010 in Paris, France.
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    At the age of just 24 (will become 25 on the second week of the French Open) Rafael Nadal has already accomplished so much.

    The Spaniard has many types of records that he could be proud of, such as having won the most singles titles as a teenager, to being the youngest player in the open era to accomplish the Grand Slam. Some records are considered great while others huge.

    The clay loving Spaniard already has five Roland Garros titles, but what would adding the 2011 French Open title mean for his legacy?

Six Is the Magic Number

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    MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 07:  Roger Federer of Switzerland shakes hands with Rafael Nadal of Spain after Nadal won in 3 sets during day eight of the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open Tennis on May 7, 2011 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    Currently the Spanish matador is the only player to have six or more titles at two different tournaments.

    So imagine what an addition Nadal could make to this record if he manages to win this year’s French Open for the sixth time.  The only person who can even come close to matching this feat is Roger Federer.

Add to His Grand Slam Legacy

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    PARIS - JUNE 06:  Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates with the trophy after winning the men's singles final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Robin Soderling of Sweden on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 6, 2010 in Paris, France.
    Julian Finney/Getty Images

    If Nadal could win this year’s title, he would become only the second player in the open era to have six French Open titles.

    The Spaniard could also add himself to the small list of being one of only three people in the open era to have six or more Grand Slams at a single venue (others being Borg, Sampras and Federer).

    Furthermore, if Rafa wins, he can make his nation proud by becoming the fourth most successful Grand Slam country in open era history with 17 Grand Slams.

Become the Undisputed King of Clay

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    PARIS - JUNE 06:  Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning championship point during the men's singles final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Robin Soderling of Sweden on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 6, 2010 in Paris, Fra
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Currently the Mallorca native has a 92.44 win percentage on the Terre Battue, the best win/loss percentage for any surface.

    To add to this he has 31 clay titles, 14 of them being Masters Tournaments, making him third on the all time clay winners list. Nadal has won at least two clay tournaments every year since 2005.

    Not only will a win at this year’s French Open-the mecca of clay court tournaments-place the Spaniard on par with Bjorn Borg on Roland Garros titles, but it would also conclude the argument once and for all that Rafael Nadal is the greatest clay court player of all time.

Prevail Against Adversity

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    PARIS - JUNE 06:  Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates winning championship point during the men's singles final match between Rafael Nadal of Spain and Robin Soderling of Sweden on day fifteen of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 6, 2010 in Paris, Fra
    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    When Federer lost the 2009 Australian Open final, many people were quick to write him off. During this period the great Swiss was also losing more frequently to opponents not named Rafael Nadal.

    However, that year the Bottmingen resident bounced back to win his first French Open and sixth Wimbledon, warning people that when playing in Grand Slams, you never write him off.

    The two clay losses that Nadal suffered to Novak Djokovic must have rattled him a bit. Those losses have contributed in Nadal having a disappointing clay season for his standards, something that he would like to rectify at the French Open.

    Although the brutal Spaniard has come back from adversity many times before when battling injuries, this will be a different circumstance.

    It does not matter that he has lost two consecutive clay finals. It does not matter that he has not been playing at the level he was playing last year. This is when Rafael Nadal will have to put the hammer down and prove to himself and everyone else, that when it comes to the clay courts of Roland Garros, he is the best.

    You could say that Nadal fought a bigger battle last year, when he came back to regain his French Open title. However, the fact is that it does not matter what kind of fight it is, whether the battle is big or small.

    And just like with Roger Federer, the mark of a true champion, a true legend, is to always fight back.

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