Where does Rafael Nadal stand on the list of the most important in the Open Age?

Rafael Nadal has continued his incredible tennis record winning yet another French Open this month. It was his 14th title at Roland Garros alone.

“Who won the most Grand Slam titles” has become the benchmark for measuring tennis size, and Nadal’s achievements certainly cement him among the best players of all time.

Just where does he stand on the list of Open Era Grand Slam winners, though? Who won the most?

Margaret Court and Bjorn Borg – 11

Bjorn Borg in action

Bjorn Borg in action

If we’re talking about the “Greatest Slam titles” ever, then Margaret Court gets the nod. More than half of those titles were won before the Open Age, however, when professional players were not allowed to compete in them.

However, the Australian was also a power in the Open Age, even reaching the Wimbledon final while pregnant in 1971.

Bjorn Borg may be the ultimate “burn bright, retired young” sports star in history. The Swede was only 26 away from tennis, but he still had time to make his mark.

Borg only actually won two of the four Grand Slam tournaments, but he won them terribly a lot. His 11 majors include six French Open titles and five consecutive Wimbledon crowns. His record could have been even better, but he lost another five finals, including four at the US Open.

Pete Sampras – 14

You have to give Pete Sampras his debt. The American was not always the most popular among fans due to his often robotic behavior and the fact that he denied Andre Agassi the career he most wanted to have, but boy could that man win Grand Slan titles. By the time Sampras was done, many considered his tally of 14 to be unassailable in the men’s game. Evidently Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic proved this foolishness, but the fact that the perception existed testifies to the scale of what Sampras has achieved.

Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert – 18

When people say that the Nadal / Djokovic / Federer era is unprecedented in tennis, kindly remind them of Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert. For years Navratilova and Evert fought on the tennis court, completely dominating the WTA at the time and sharing 36 Grand Slam titles equally between them. The 324 titles in common between them in total – and that’s just the ones they won in the singles.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – 20

Novak Djokovic welcomes Rafael Nadal after French Open defeat

Novak Djokovic welcomes Rafael Nadal after French Open defeat

There’s probably a big star next to Djokovic’s name here, because you have the feeling that he’s not finished yet. As things stand, Djokovic and Federer are currently tied at 20 and that is a number that was once considered absolutely unthinkable. At 40, Roger Federer’s Grand Slam victory days are almost certainly behind him, but expect to see Djokovic climb the list in the coming months.

Steffi Graf and Rafael Nadal – 22

If you are looking for a perspective on what Rafael Nadal has achieved, then consider this: If the French Open was the only Grand Slam Nadal once played, he would still have won as many majors as the great Pete Sampras.

The fact that Nadal achieved this during a fight against Federer and Djokovic only makes it even more remarkable. If his foot held for a few more years, you would have to support him to at least copy the number of career Grand Slam titles of Serena Williams.

Steffi Graf, meanwhile, was just as dominant as they are back in the late ’80s and’ 90s. She probably lacked really great rivals, to be honest, especially after what happened to Monica Seles, but that shouldn’t diminish her legacy. Graf is the only singles player to win the “Golden Slam” of all four majors and an Olympic gold medal in the same year, which is truly amazing.

Serena Williams – 23

Serena Williams planning a Wimbledon comeback

Serena Williams planning a Wimbledon comeback

It’s ironic that we were obsessed with whether or not Serena Williams would break Margaret Court’s all-time record when she already has the most important one – the Open Era record.

Whenever Williams plays major, which is rare nowadays, the story always centers around her “quest to match Margaret Court’s record” of 24 career Grand Slam titles, but it shouldn’t be. Serena Williams is already standing above the rest, although Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are sure to target her now.

The article Grand Slam titles: Where does Rafael Nadal stand on the list of most major in the Open Age? first appeared on Planetsport.com.

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