French Open 2017: Was Rafael Nadal's 'La Decima' the greatest Grand Slam performance of all time?

Was Nadal's 'La Decima' the greatest Grand Slam victory of all time?

13/06/2017 at 12:30Updated 13/06/2017 at 13:37

Rafael Nadal coasted to a 10th French Open at Roland Garros on Sunday, but where does his victory rate in the history of the sport?

The Mallorcan swept to the title with a 6-2 6-3 6-1 win over Stanislas Wawrinka at Roland Garros 12 years after he first claimed the Grand Slam on clay at the age of 19 in 2005.

Remarkably, like a fine Spanish wine, Nadal at the age of 31 is getting better with age to such a point that many commentators believe his 10th success as the undisputed 'King of Clay' was his greatest performance on the surface that illuminates his career.

The raw statistics would seem to suggest so.

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Key facts from Nadal's success

1. He didn't drop a set in seven matches at the tournament

2. It was the third time he didn't drop a set after 2008 and 2010

Rafael Nadal

Rafael NadalGetty Images

3. He lost only 35 games in winning the tournament

4. Only Bjorn Borg lost fewer games at the 1978 French Open

Nadal's tournament stats at Roland Garros.

5. He becomes the first man to win 10 titles at a single Grand Slam tournament

6. Margaret Court is one ahead in the women's game having won 11 at the Australian Open

7. He hit 168 winners, made 122 unforced errors and 18 aces

Rafael Nadal and Björn Borg

Rafael Nadal and Björn BorgEurosport

8. With 15 Grand Slams, Nadal is behind only Roger Federer's total of 18

9. Nadal has moved onto 15 Grand Slams ahead of Pete Sampras 14, Novak Djokovic 12, Roy Emerson 12, Bjorn Borg 11 and Rod Laver 11

10. Nadal is back up to number two in the world behind Andy Murray

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11. Nadal's record at the French Open is 79-2. He is 102-2 on clay over the best-of-five matches

12. He has lost only twice at the French Open, in the quarter-finals to Robin Soderling in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in 2015

13. The longest match in tennis between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut ran for 183 games at Wimbledon in 2010. Nadal played 151 to win this French Open

How many French Open titles will Rafael Nadal finish his career with?

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So is Nadal's 10th the greatest Grand Slam performance of all time?

In terms of individual dominance, without a doubt. But it depends on how you see it.

But it obviously did not come as easy as Rafa at Roland Garros.

Borg lost two fewer games in 1978 playing with a wooden racket, but one has to remember that the athleticism was less ferocious in those days. There is also the fact that the Swedish player retired when he was 26, having won the last of his six French Opens aged 25.

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Nadal is six years older than Borg in winning his latest French Open yet remarkably shows little sign of decay. Borg is also third on the list of the fewest games lost, having won in 1980 hemorrhaging 38 games with Nadal next on the list losing only 41 in 2008.

Many will suggest Nadal's 34 this year was boosted by the retirement of an injured player Pablo Carreno Busta leading 6-2 2-0 in the quarter-final, but there is every chance he would have beaten his 2008 mark for games conceded.

Nadal's backhand has remarkably grown as strong as his forehand lending wisdom to Federer's decision to skip the clay season when it turns out the field was playing for second place in Paris.

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There remains an outside chance Nadal could draw level with Federer's 18 Grand Slams by winning another three on his favourite surface. That wouldn't make him the greatest, but it would merely supplement the fact that nobody has or will be as supreme on a single surface as Nadal on clay.

And whatever happens, 'La Decima' will be remembered as a bit special because it was his most dominant performance in a career of dominance.

It could be argued that we have witnessed the two most spectacular Grand Slam wins in the first two majors of the season. In that order.

Who will retire with more Grand Slam titles?

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Roger Federer (currently 19)
Rafael Nadal (currently 16)