Winning a major title is always a remarkable achievement. Beat seven rivals in two weeks requires exceptional performance and composed tennis in challenging best-of-five encounters. The feat gets even more exclusive when we talk about the players who have won a Major title without losing a set, with just five names on this Open-era list.
Ken Rosewall did so at the Australian Open in 1971, and Ilie Nastase followed him at Roland Garros two years later. Between 1976 and 1980 the remarkable Bjorn Borg managed the feat three times at Roland Garros and Wimbledon and remained the record holder for four decades!
Bjorn was the last major champion without dropping a set until 2007 when Roger Federer joined him at the Australian Open. The Swiss stopped the clock and repeated the task at Wimbledon 2017 by just under 36! Rafael Nadal overshadowed the mentioned rivals by dominating a single major like no other.
The Spaniard became the first player to win four Majors without dropping a set, achieving it in his beloved Paris two years ago. Nadal won Roland Garros titles in dominant style in 2008 and 2010. He was strong again in 2017 to take on Bjorn Borg before overtaking the great Swede in 2020.
On October 11, Rafa captured the 13th Roland Garros crown from 16 trips to Paris, edging out all seven rivals in straight sets to set a remarkable record and join Roger Federer on 20 Major trophies! At 34, Nadal endured all of Paris’ efforts.
He overwhelmed his opponents and challenging conditions to confirm his greatness and write the record books 15 years after his first triumph in the French capital. Suffering eight breaks in seven games, the Spaniard delivered incredible tennis on serve and return, outpacing all opponents and claiming a fourth straight crown in Paris.
Rafael Nadal is the only player with four major titles without dropping a set.
Rafa brought down Egor Gerasimov, Mackenzie McDonald, Stefano Travaglia and Sebastian Korda without breaking a sweat for the first four laps. The king of clay suffered a break and lost 23 games (ten to Gerasimov in the opening game) in 12 sets to sail into the quarters and save energy.
Nadal worked hard against young Italian Jannik Sinner, getting broken twice and trailing 6-5 in the opener to threaten the record. Still, Rafa broke back at the last moment and won the tie-break to end the first set before prevailing in the second and standing strong in the third to advance to the semis.
Diego Schwartzman defeated Rafa in Rome a few weeks earlier but didn’t stand a chance in Paris. Nadal squandered a massive lead in the third set, and Schwartzman gained momentum in the second to set a tiebreak. Still, Nadal won 7-0 to seal the deal in style and advance to the 13th Roland Garros final.
The most difficult obstacle stood between Rafael Nadal and the title, with world No. 1. 1 Novak Djokovic is on the other side of the net. Like his predecessors, Novak had nothing to offer against the mighty Rafa, who delivered a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 triumph in two hours and 41 minutes to celebrate the fourth Major crown without dropping a set !
Nadal had 31 winners and 14 unforced errors, putting in a strong performance on both wings to earn 51% of return points and control the scoreboard. Novak sprayed 52 unforced errors, searched for his A-game for over two hours and suffered a massive loss despite a solid performance in the decider.
Rafa lost serve once, which was never enough for Novak to feel comfortable. As in 2008 against Roger Federer, Nadal delivered a bagel in the opening set, played almost flawless tennis and caused three breaks against the world’s best player.
Rafa had no break points in the second set, taming his shots well and outplaying Djokovic on the return for another rock solid set of tennis and a 6-0, 6-2 advantage. Eager to avoid disaster, Novak saved a break chance in the third game of the third set and upped his level.
Rafa broke it at love in game five and gave serve for the first and only time minutes later, giving Djokovic the boost he needed. Nadal held easily in games eight, ten and 12, earning a break at 5-5 after Novak’s double fault and sealing the deal with a hold in a massive 20th Major title celebration.