At the tender age of just 25, Rafael Nadal has already accomplished so much. His legacy is one that many would be jealous of.
Nevertheless, there is still one more thing that the Spaniard must do in order for him to take his legacy to a monumental new level.
This upcoming Grand Slam, which just so happens to be Wimbledon, could shape his career as well as his legacy forever. If the man born in Mallorca wins the 2011 Wimbledon title, he could equal many great tennis feats.
Winning at the All England Club once is great. Winning there twice shows that your first victory was not a fluke. Winning there three times puts you in the pantheon of greats.
During the Open Era only five men have managed to win Wimbledon three or more times. Additionally, all of these players are considered tennis legends.
If the Spaniard can win, he could join the company of John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras; not too shabby.
Even if winning six Roland Garros titles is something near to impossible that everyone should recognize, Wimbledon is the tournament that everybody around the world knows about. People who are not avid tennis watchers will know that Nadal is one of tennis’ greats, because he won Wimbledon three times.
If Nadal succeeds in defending his Wimbledon title, he will equal Pete Sampras’ record in winning the most Grand Slam finals in succession. At the moment the Spaniard is equal at seven finals, with Federer.
Bjorn Borg was 25 years old when he won his 11th and final Grand Slam title, the youngest male to reach that number in history.
Although Nadal cannot better this record (Nadal turned 25 in the first week of June), he can at least become the second youngest male player to achieve this feat and in the process pushing Federer to third place.
By winning this year’s Wimbledon, Nadal could equal two greats of the game in terms of grand slam singles titles; Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver who have both won 11 Grand Slams.
Breathing the rarified air of these two heavy weights is no mean achievement. The only people above the Spanish Matador would be the Australian Roy Emerson, the American Pete Sampras and the Swiss Roger Federer.
Rafael is fourth in the category of “most grass titles for an active player” with three titles; two Wimbledon and one Queens Club title. Were Nadal to win his third Wimbledon, he would equal Andy Roddick in having four grass-court titles.
The other two players ahead are Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer with seven and 11 titles respectively.
It is considered by many professionals as the hardest "double" in tennis. Only four people have managed this in the Open Era of tennis: Laver, Borg, Federer and Nadal.
However, the Swede is the only one to accomplish the feat thrice, consecutively! If Nadal wins this year’s Wimbledon, he can equal the record of managing the double three times, albeit not consecutively, adding to his 2008 and 2010 accomplishments.
What I mean by this is that both players are getting better at revolving their schedules around the majors. Murray’s two best performances this year were at the Aussie Open and the French Open, while Djokovic has reached the semifinals of his last four majors.
The Spaniard is not competing only against Federer anymore but with the young guns behind him as well.
Only seven people in the Open Era have ever defended their Wimbledon title successfully. Although Rafa has won two of these special titles, he has never defended it the following year.
When Nadal won the title back in 2008, he had to withdraw the following year due to injury. The Spaniard would like to set things straight and retain his title this year, thus making up for his 2009 absence.
It has been a mixed season for Nadal. The Spaniard has reached seven finals, leaving as the winner in only three of those finals. Novak Djokovic had got the better of Nadal in the other four finals and the former has also come perilously close in usurping the Mallorca native from the No. 1 ranking.
By winning Wimbledon Nadal will prove to himself and to the world that he is the true No. 1 and that he deserves to be there.
Anyone who wins two Grand Slams in the same year—especially Roland Garros and Wimbledon—is usually considered as the best player of the season. By accomplishing this rare feat three times, Nadal will know that deep down in his heart of hearts, he was the best player in the world in those three years.