Inside Rafael Nadal’s record on clay: Spain tennis legend grows at 2022 French Open

Inside Rafael Nadal’s record on clay: Spain tennis legend grows at 2022 French Open

Rafael Nadal is simply the king of the French Open.

No other player has won as many Grand Slam titles on the clay surface at Roland-Garros – with the Spaniard’s 21 majors across the four Slams a current record in the sport’s history.

After advancing to the 2022 French Open final on his 36th birthday when semi-final opponent Alexander Zverev was forced to retire after sustaining an ankle injury, Nadal is one step closer to improving his record even further in Paris and is now the hot favourite.

The Sporting News looks at the Spanish legend’s dominance at the Paris-based major.

How many French Open titles has Rafael Nadal won?

Rafael Nadal has lifted the La Coupe des Mousquetaires – the French Open men’s singles trophy – on an incredible 13 occasions, having competed in the main draw at Roland-Garros 17 times.

On his 19th birthday in 2005, Nadal became the second man to win the French Open on his first attempt – after Mats Wilander in 1982 – defeating Mariano Puerta 6-7(8) 6-3 6-1 7-5.

After tasting success on debut, Nadal went on to win the next three French Open’s between 2006-2008 to begin his reign of dominance, defeating Roger Federer in all three finals, the 2006 edition being the Swiss maestro’s first loss in a major final.

However, in 2009, his run of four Roland-Garros titles since debut was broken with a fourth-round exit to eventual finalist and 23rd seed Robin Soderling, with Federer finally snaring his first French Open.

Nadal responded by winning the next five French Open’s, defeating Soderling (2010), Federer (2011), Novak Djokovic (2012), David Ferrer (2013) and Novak Djokovic (2014).

In 2015, Nadal was beaten in straight sets by Djokovic, who went on to lose the final to Stan Wawrinka. And for the first time in his career, he failed in two successive French Open’s when he retired injured prior to his third round match against Marcel Granollers.

Nadal bounced back to win the four French Open titles between 2017-20, with victories in the final against Wawrinka (2017), Dominic Thiem (2018 and 2019) and Djokovic (2020).

Last year, Nadal was eliminated in the semi-finals by eventual winner Djokovic.

Rafa Nadal French Open 2017

How many times has Nadal lost at Roland-Garros?

Having won the men’s singles title on 13 of 17 attempts at the French Open, Nadal has only ever lost three matches at Roland-Garros in his career, with his exit in 2016 not counted as an official loss because he withdrew before the third round with injury.

  • French Open 2009 4R – lost to Robin Soderling (Sweden) 6-2 6-7(2) 6-4 7-6(2)
  • French Open 2015 QF – lost to Novak Djokovic (Serbia) 7-5 6-3 6-1
  • French Open 2021 SF – lost to Novak Djokovic (Serbia) 3-6 6-3 7-6(4) 6-2

What French Open records does Nadal hold?

  • Most French Open titles (13)
  • Most French Open finals contested (14)
  • Most consecutive French Open titles (5)
  • Biggest French Open match win streak (39)
  • Most amount of wins at the French Open (106)
  • Highest winning percentage at the French Open (97.2%)
  • Won at least one French Open title across three decades (2000s, 2010s, 2020s)

Which players have won the most men’s French Open titles?

In the Open Era, which began in 1968, Nadal has won the most French Open titles with 13, followed by Bjorn Borg’s six and three to Mats Wilander, Ivan Lendl and Gustavo Kuerten.

List of multiple French Open champions in the Open Era

No. of titlesPlayerYears
13Rafael Nadal (Spain)2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020
6Bjorn Borg (Sweden)1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981
3Mats Wilander (Sweden)1982, 1985, 1988
3Ivan Lendl (Czechoslovakia)1984, 1986, 1987
3Gustavo Kuerten (Brazil)1997, 2000, 2001
2Jan Kodes (Czechoslovakia)1970, 1971
2Jim Courier (USA)1991, 1992
2Sergi Bruguera (Spain)1993, 1994
2Novak Djokovic (Serbia)2016, 2021

How many career Grand Slam majors has Nadal won?

Including his 13 French Open titles, Nadal has lifted a tennis record 21 Grand Slam majors, which includes four U.S Open titles, two Wimbledon triumphs and two Australian Open wins.

Nadal clinched the 2022 Australian Open in January, 13 years after he won his first title Down Under, ending a streak of four losses in the tournament final.

His Wimbledon titles came in 2008 and 2010, with his last appearance in the final coming in 2011, with semi-final exits in 2018 and 2019.

Nadal has lifted the U.S Open trophy on four occasions, but hasn’t competed at Flushing Meadows since he last won the tournament in 2019.