Rafa Nadal reacts to winning French Open at Roland-Garros
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Rafael Nadal has long overtaken Roger Federer in the Grand Slam race and Novak Djokovic is almost certain to get to 21 Slams eventually – but there are some records Federer owns that his long-time rivals may never match or surpass.
Federer is currently rehabilitating as he seeks to make another return to the tennis court aged 40. The 20-time Grand Slam winner, who turns 41 in August, has not played since losing to Hubert Hurkacz in the Wimbledon quarter-finals last June. Since then Federer has watched Nadal become a 21-time and 22-time Grand Slam winner with triumphs at the Australian Open and Roland Garros respectively.
It is unlikely the veteran will ever be level with the Spaniard again. But Nadal and Djokovic may never surpass Federer’s sensational tally of Grand Slam match wins. Federer has won 369 times at majors, with Djokovic on 327 and Nadal on 305.
For context, Nadal would need to win all seven matches at nine different Slams just to get to 368 wins at majors. Djokovic is the most likely to exceed Federer as he would needs to win all seven matches at six Slams to join Federer on 369, though even that is a big ask.
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That is not the only achievement that Nadal, 36, and Djokovic, 35, face a massive challenge to beat. Federer (103) is one of just two players with over 100 singles titles with Nadal 11 behind on 92.
It is perfectly feasible Nadal can win another 11 or 12 titles, particularly with his continued dominance on clay, but the Spaniard’s long-time injury issues mean retirement is not too far away and he may understandably prioritise winning more Slams over lesser titles.
Djokovic is on 87 singles titles – putting him 16 behind Federer and five off Nadal. The Serbian has collected 15 titles across the last three-and-a-half seasons but similarly is Grand Slam driven. Retirement also is not far away for the current world No 1, meaning he will need to make the most of the next two to three years to beat Federer.
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With all three of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic into their final few years on the ATP Tour, it seems improbable Federer’s tally of total wins on tour will ever be caught. The Swiss is on 1,251 victories at Slams, Masters and all other tournaments combined. Nadal is on 1,058 with Djokovic on 1,005.
Nadal has averaged 44 match wins a year across the last five full seasons, with Djokovic averaging 48. The latter could average the same win percentage for another five years and would still only get to 1,245.
Nadal is 193 match wins behind Federer and so if he maintained an average of 44 wins per year would need another four-and-a-half seasons to catch the 20-time Grand Slam winner. It is unclear if he has that in him. While it may not matter much to the duo given they should finish with several more Slams than Federer, the Swiss icon will be glad to retire with at least some incredible records still in his name. He deserves it.
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