June 5, 2005. Do you remember what you were doing then? World, then, was a different place. George W Bush was US President. Facebook was still an exclusivity to college kids in America and Europe and the Mark Zuckerberg was not known. Twitter was yet to be launched. The global population itself was lesser by a billion. Alexander Zverev was seven then.
But it is on this day a legendary tennis expedition reached its first milestone. A 19-year-old from the Balearic Islands in Spain, clad in white capri-length pants and olive green sleeveless Nike tops, beat an opponent seven years older to him to become the first man in over two decades to win the French Open on debut.
Thirteen years have passed. And, 10 times Rafael Nadal has won it. It’s become a habit. But Nadal isn’t tired of it even one bit. No other player has dominated any other Grand Slam like he has been doing at the French Open. On Sunday, Dominic Thiem in his first Grand Slam final will try to do no other human has ever done: beat Nadal in the final of the French Open. Here are the Spaniard’s previous ten conquests:-
2005: bt Mariano Puerta (ARG) 6-7, 6-3, 6-1, 7-5
At just 19, Nadal became the youngest winner of a Grand Slam title since Michael Chang won at Roland Garros in 1989 at 17. He was the first man since Mats Wilander in 1982 to win the French Open on his debut. Puerta was to later fail a drugs test and handed an eight-year ban, eventually reduced to two years.
2006: bt Roger Federer (SUI) 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6
Nadal became the first man to beat Federer in a Slam final, ending the Swiss star’s hopes of holding all four majors at the same time. It was Nadal’s 60th win in a row on clay.
2007: bt Roger Federer (SUI) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
The 21-year-old Nadal became the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win three successive titles at Roland Garros. He again also shattered Federer’s hopes of becoming only the third man in history to hold all four majors.
2008: bt Roger Federer (SUI) 6–1, 6–3, 6–0
Nadal condemned his great rival to his worst ever loss in a Grand Slam event. The Spaniard also won the title without losing a set, becoming the third man to do so in the Open era after Ilie Nastase and Borg.
2010: bt Robin Soderling (SWE) 6–4, 6–2, 6–4
Nadal avenged his defeat to the Swede at Roland Garros 12 months earlier. Again, Nadal finished the tournament without having dropped a set. He also regained the world number one ranking for the first time since July 2009.
2011: bt Roger Federer (SUI) 7-5, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1
Nadal claimed his sixth French Open to equal the record of Borg, also taking his Slam total into double figures at 10. Federer had ended Novak Djokovic’s 43-match undefeated run in the semi-finals.
2012: bt Novak Djokovic (SRB) 6–4, 6–3, 2–6, 7–5
Nadal goes past Borg’s record of six titles and ends Djokovic’s bid to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four majors. Rain meant that the final was completed on Monday which was tough on Djokovic who was a break up in the fourth set when the match was halted for the night.
2013: bt David Ferrer (ESP) 6–3, 6–2, 6–3
Nadal comfortably beats his compatriot for an eighth French Open but the hard yards were achieved in the semi-finals when he defeated Djokovic 6–4, 3–6, 6–1, 6–7, 9–7 in a 4-hour 37-minute epic.
2014: bt Novak Djokovic (SRB) 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4
Title number nine in his ninth final for Nadal and his 14th Grand Slam success on an afternoon where temperatures nudged 30 degrees. It was his 45th career clay-court title.
2017: bt Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 6-2, 6-3, 6-1
Nadal coasts to a record 10th French Open title, demolishing Wawrinka in a brutally one-sided final which also earns the Spaniard a 15th Grand Slam crown. Nadal, 31, becomes the first man in history to win the same major 10 times. It is his most one-sided final win since allowing Federer just four games in the 2008 final.
(With inputs from AFP)