By Lisa-Marie Burrows
Rafael Nadal achieved on Monday what no man has ever been able to do before at Roland Garros – win seven titles on the Parisian red clay. Nadal has now matched the Grand Slam records of Rod Laver and Björn Borg with his 11 Grand Slam titles, but who else stands before him on his route to climbing to the record breaking limits of Roger Federer?
1) Roger Federer – 16 Grand Slams: At the top of the Grand Slam winners list is the very best of the best, Roger Federer. During his illustrious career he has amassed an astonishing 16 Grand Slam titles having completed the Career Slam with 4 Australian Open titles, 1 at the French Open where he finally won the Slam that had eluded him during most of his career in 2009, 6 Wimbledon titles and 5 at the US Open. Roger Federer may be in his thirties but he should never be discounted from further breaking his own record, especially as the season has now swung onto the green grass of Wimbledon. The Swiss maestro may still be able to add yet another Grand Slam to his extensive list of titles.
2) Pete Sampras – 14 Grand Slams: Roger Federer’s idol and hero was Pete Sampras and his career was one which the former world No.1 always admired – especially his many Grand Slam victories. Pistol Pete and his sublime serve were rewarded at many major events. The American won two Australian Open titles, 7 Wimbledon titles, and 5 US open titles. Clay was something which Sampras and his big game struggled to adjust to and unfortunately he did not achieve the Career Slam as he was unable to lift the trophy at Roland Garros in Paris.
3) Roy Emerson – 12 Grand Slams: The Australian, Emerson, was another fantastic player with a great career who also achieved the Career Slam. Emerson delighted his home country by winning the Australian Open 6 times, the French Open 2 times, Wimbledon twice and the US Open on two occasions. He held the record for the most Grand Slams for 33 years until Sampras surpassed him in 2000 at Wimbledon, where Emerson was present to congratulate the American on his achievement.
4) Rod Laver – 11 Grand Slams – Despite having won 11 Grand Slams during his career, Laver was never the world No.1 and his highest ranking was No.3. Laver was another Australian who proudly flew the flag for his country and achieved the Career Slam. The left-handed 5’8” player proved that being shorter than the average player did not make him ,lack in power and strength as he heavily dominated tennis during the 1960s. Laver delighted his home crowd when he won the Australian Open 3 times in 1960, 1962, 1969. Proving that it was not just the home support that got him through the majors, Laver won the French Open twice, Wimbledon 4 times and the US Open on two occasions.
5) Björn Borg – 11 Grand Slams: Last year Björn Borg looked on as Rafael Nadal equalized the Swedes record of 6 Grand Slam wins at Roland Garros in 2011, a record which many did not think would be reached in an era so heavily dominated by Roger Federer – but it was Nadal who broke through to match Borg’s record. Borg retired at 26 years old during the peak of his career and who knows how many more Grand Slams he may have won at Roland Garros or indeed at the other Slams? As much of a dominance as he had on clay, Borg also demonstrated his supremacy at SW19, on the green grass of Wimbledon. Borg lifted the trophy at the All England Club 5 times, but was never victorious at the Australian Open and US Open.
6) Rafael Nadal – 11 Grand Slams: On Monday Rafael Nadal equaled his number of Grand Slams with Borg, Laver and Emerson after making history by lifting the trophy in Paris for the 7th time at Roland Garros – a feat which no man has ever achieved before. Nadal has worked hard during his career to prove that he is an all round player, one that can to adapt to every surface after also completing the Career Slam. He has won the Australian Open and the US Open once and Wimbledon twice. The Spaniard is still only 26 years old after celebrating his birthday in Paris and providing he stays healthy, he has many more years still left ahead of him. Who knows how many more Grand Slams the man from Manacor might win, not just at Roland Garros but on the hard courts of the Australian open and US Open, but also at Wimbledon? Is he going to be the man to top Roger Federer’s record or will he be able to match the records of Emerson and Sampras above him?