Roger Federer fans: now may be a good time to panic.
Spanish bull Rafael Nadal captured his 13th French Open crown overnight, putting Novak Djokovic to the sword in a straight-sets display of dominance. Not only does this title net Rafa a cool AUD $1.6M, but it also further extends his near-untarnished win/loss record at Roland Garros to 100/2 – his only two losses ever on court Philippe Chatrier having come from Robin Soderling in 2009, and Novak in 2015.
Prize money aside, there’s an even more important narrative behind Nadal’s historic win in Paris: his equalling of Roger Federer’s previously untouchable record 20 Grand Slam titles.
After his recent Roland Garros success, Nadal has quickly reignited the Grand Slam race between the ‘Big three’ of modern-day tennis: Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Nadal himself. Roger and Rafa now both sit comfortably at 20 Grand Slam titles apiece, whilst Serb Djokovic is a little further down the pecking order at (only) 17 titles.
The race is on – not only against each other, but against Father time as well.
At 39, Federer is nearly 5-years older than his rival Nadal and closing in on retirement. Similarly, one has to wonder how much longer Nadal’s injury-prone body can withstand his extremely physical playing-style.
In either case, both players face a narrowing window for Grand Slam success.
Nadal’s triumph in Paris was no doubt due in part to his skipping of the U.S. Open earlier this season. If you’re a betting man, you can wager that Federer adopts a similar strategy come July next year, as he prepares for his favourite tournament on the calendar: Wimbledon.