Part 1 of this series looked at how Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have won 44 of the 96 majors held since 1990. If Rafa, Roger and Pete don’t add any majors in 2014, they will have won 44% of the Grand Slam events held since 1990. That is a remarkable accomplishment for 3 players. Rafa is likely to add at least one slam in 2014, and Roger could add another slam. Even with Sampras being retired and Federer in a noticeable decline the number is likely to be higher than 44% at the close of 2014.
Over 20% Have Been Won on Red Dirt
Of the 44 majors won by these three champions, 9 have been won at Roland Garros. Only 7 of their majors were won in Melbourne, but the distribution of titles in Paris is decidedly centered on Rafael Nadal. Here is the numeric breakdown with El Rey de Clay coming first:
Champion: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 (No Words)
Runner-up: 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2011 (He reached 5 championship matches in 6 years)
Semifinalist: 2005 and 2012
Quarterfinalist: 2001, 2010, and 2013
Quarterfinalist: 1992, 1993, and 1994
Pete Sampras does not have a tremendous amount to offer to this grouping, but his losses in 1992 (Agassi), 1993 (Bruguera), 1994 (Courier) and 1996 (Kafelnikov) came to a group of men who combined to win 6 French Open titles. Federer as a function of being nearly 5 years older than Rafa has reached or exceeded the quarterfinal round at the French Open 10 times. Nadal has won all but one match he’s ever played at the French Open. A banana in 2006 and Robin Soderling in 2009 have been the only things to threaten Nadal at Roland Garros.
Roger, “I got at least one of these.”
Rafa and Roger have combined for some serious success in Paris. Federer has lost to Nadal in 4 French Open championship matches and another de facto championship match in the 2005 French Open semifinal round. Still, Nadal and Federer have combined to win 9 French Open titles and reach 14 French Open championship rounds. Rafa has owned this event in a manner that no one in tennis history has owned a slam. Federer, like Wilander and Lendl, has reached 5 French Open finals. Unlike Wilander and Lendl Federer is 1-4 in those matches rather than 3-2. Still, Federer is the most decorated of the players holding only 1 French Open title.
The lesson here is a bit harder to draw than in Melbourne. Rafa has so completely dominated this event that their shared successes in Paris are almost all attributed to him. In an alternate reality where Rafa chose to play a different sport, maybe Federer is looked at as having a chance to catch Borg’s 6 French Open titles. One lesson is clear, that to pass Roy Emerson one has to own at least one of the four majors. Rafa has owned Roland Garros since 2005.
Rafa, “David, if you want to see a Spaniard other than me holding this trophy go look at Albert Costa.”