Rafael Nadal has won a record 21 Grand Slam singles titles, more than any other male player in tennis history.
Nadal has appeared in 29 Grand Slam finals which is second to Roger Federer’s and Novak Djokovic’s 31 finals. He has appeared in at least five finals at each Major (a feat equaled only by Federer and surpassed only by Djokovic’s six) and has won multiple majors on hard, grass, and clay courts, a feat matched by Djokovic at French Open 2021. Nadal completed the Career Grand Slam and the Career Golden Slam, becoming the youngest player in the Open Era to achieve this feat, having won all four Majors and the Olympic title by the age of 24 years, 3 months and 10 days. At the 2022 Australian Open, he became the fourth man in history (joining Roy Emerson, Rod Laver, and Djokovic) to complete the Double Career Grand Slam, winning each Grand Slam title at least two times.
Known as the “King of Clay”, Nadal won the French Open 9 times in his first 10 attempts, and 13 times overall, with a match record of 105–3 (97.2% win rate), which is viewed by many analysts as one of the greatest feats in the Open Era. Nadal won the French Open on his first attempt as a 19-year-old in 2005 and went on to win 4 consecutive crowns from 2005 to 2008, defeating then-world-No. 1 Roger Federer in three consecutive finals from 2006 to 2008 (he also defeated Federer in the 2005 semi-finals) and again in the 2011 final (Nadal is the only player to defeat Federer in four finals at the same Major. Nadal is also the only player to beat Federer in the finals of three different Grand Slams, the French Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon). His sole loss at the French Open during this period came at the hands of Sweden’s Robin Söderling in 2009 in the round of 16. Nadal then went on to avenge his loss to Söderling by defeating him in the 2010 French Open final. He would go on to win 5 consecutive crowns from 2010 to 2014. Nadal furthered his place in history by achieving “La Decima”, a 10th title at the 2017 French Open, where he did not drop a set and lost only 35 games, only three shy of Borg’s record of 32 games lost. He would then win 4 consecutive crowns from 2017 to 2020, making Nadal the only player in history, male or female, to win 13 Grand Slams at a single Major (ahead of Djokovic’s 9 Australian Open titles and Federer’s 8 Wimbledon titles. The best female record is Margaret Court’s 11 Australian Open titles). Additionally, his 2020 French Open win also made Nadal the only player in history to have 3 streaks of 4 consecutive titles at a Grand Slam event (Borg and Federer each had 2 streaks), as well as 3 streaks of 30+ consecutive match wins at the same event. He has never been taken to five sets in the final of the French Open, and is the only player to achieve this type of dominance at any single Grand Slam tournament. Additionally, Nadal is 25–0 in best of 5 matches on clay at other events, bringing his total match record, in best of 5 on clay, to 130–3, a win percentage of 97.7%. Nadal did not lose a single semifinal on clay courts for 12 years (52–0) from the 2003 Croatia Open (lost to Carlos Moya) to the 2015 Rio Open (lost to Fabio Fognini).
Nadal has won 36 Masters 1000 titles. On clay, he has won 26 Masters 1000 titles, a record 13 Grand Slam titles, and an Open Era record 62 titles. He won at least one Masters 1000 title for ten consecutive years from 2005 to 2014 and is the only player to achieve this type of consistency in the Open Era. He holds the Open Era record for the most consecutive years winning 1+ ATP singles titles (19 years from 2004–2022) and the most consecutive years winning 2+ ATP singles titles (18 years from 2005–2022). He holds the longest single surface win streak in the Open Era by a male, having won 81 consecutive matches on clay courts from 2005 to 2007, 16 better than Federer’s record on grass, and 25 better than Federer’s record on hard courts. Nadal also won a record 8 consecutive Monte Carlo Masters 1000 titles from 2005 to 2012, and an overall record 11 titles including 3 consecutive titles from 2016 to 2018. Nadal has also won an all-time record 10 Masters 1000 titles in Rome, and 12 titles at the ATP 500 Barcelona Open. In 2010, Nadal won the French Open plus all three clay court Masters 1000 events (Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid) in the same calendar year, thus becoming the first, and only player to complete the “Clay Slam”.
Nadal won at least one Grand Slam tournament for 10 consecutive years (2005 – 2014) having broken the previous men’s record of 8 consecutive years. He holds the record for most titles at 3 ATP Tour levels: ATP 500 (Barcelona Open – 12), Masters 1000 (Monte Carlo – 11), and Grand Slams (French Open – 13).
Nadal’s success is not limited to clay courts. Over the course of his career, he has won 500+ hard court matches as well as 450+ clay court matches. He is the only player, male or female, to have recorded 450+ match wins on both hard and clay courts. He has won 501 matches on hard courts, which is fourth in the Open Era behind only Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Andre Agassi. He has won 6 hard-court Grand Slam titles, which ranks him fourth in the all-time ranking behind only Djokovic, Federer, and Pete Sampras. He has achieved considerable success on hard courts and grass courts, obtaining multiple Grand Slams outside of the French Open having won 2 Australian Open (hard), 2 Wimbledon (grass), and 4 US Open (hard) titles. Nadal and Djokovic are the only male players in the Open Era to win multiple slams on clay, hard, and grass courts (Federer and Agassi have achieved this feat once). Furthermore, Nadal is the second Spaniard to win Wimbledon. In 2008, he became only the third player in the Open Era, after Rod Laver in 1969 and Bjorn Borg in 1980, to win the French Open and Wimbledon crowns in the same year, also known as the “Channel Slam”, which he repeated in 2010 (Federer joined the club in 2009, and Djokovic in 2021). Nadal is the first Spaniard to win the Australian Open. Nadal is the only male player in tennis history to win the French Open and the US Open in the same calendar year four times (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019). Nadal won the Olympic Gold Medal in singles in Beijing (2008) on hard courts (defeating Djokovic in the semi-finals), and the Olympic Gold Medal in men’s doubles in Rio de Janeiro (2016). He has won 10 Masters 1000 titles at hard court events (5 in Canada, 3 in Indian Wells, 1 in Cincinnati, 1 in Madrid indoor (2005)]. Nadal dominated the North American hard court season in 2013, having already won the Indian Wells title earlier in the year, he would go on to win 26 consecutive matches on hard courts by winning the Canadian Masters, Cincinnati Masters as well as the US Open, thus joining Patrick Rafter (1998) and Andy Roddick (2003) in completing the “Summer Slam” (winning the Canada Masters, Cincinnati Masters, and the US Open in the same calendar year – a feat accomplished by 3 men in history).
Nadal was ATP Year-End No. 1 in 2008, 2010, 2013, 2017, and 2019, tied for third in the all-time rankings with Jimmy Connors and Federer. He is the first man to be Year-End No. 1 twice after turning 30 years old (2017 and 2019), and one of only 2 men to do so (along with Djokovic – 2018, 2020 and 2021). The gap between his first and most recent Year-End No. 1 is 11 years. He is the first male player to be Year-End No. 1 in 5 non-consecutive years. The razor-thin margin between him and the then-number-two ranked player, Novak Djokovic, in 2013 was 770 ranking points, and in 2019 was 840 ranking points. Nadal is the only male singles player to have been ranked ATP World No. 1 in three decades, in the 2000s, 2010s, and 2020s.
Nadal also holds the Open Era record for the most consecutive years qualifying for the year-end ATP Finals, at 16 years in a row. Nadal ranks first in the Open Era for best career winning percentage (minimum 500 wins) at 83.31% (1043–209 record). He ranks 2nd in the Open Era for most wins against top 10 players (181 wins 99 losses) behind Djokovic.