Since the beginning of the Open era in April 1968, only eight players have reached more than 12 Major finals. Jimmy Connors did that first, followed by Bjorn Borg and Ivan Lendl. The most significant players from the 90s, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, also joined the list before Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic stole the show, competing in over 90 Major finals and leaving the legends from the past far behind. Collecting 13 Major finals is an impressive feat that becomes even more exclusive when we consider Rafael Nadal’s Roland Garros record. In October 2020, Nadal became the first player in the Open era with 13 finals at a single Major, passing Roger Federer’s 12 Wimbledon finals. Rafa and Roger are the only players with more than nine title matches at a single Major, earning records on their beloved surfaces and standing in front of Novak Djokovic.
Instead of May and June, Rafa chased another impressive run in Paris in October two years ago, battling cold weather and the new Wilson balls. Having to change some elements of his game and become more aggressive, Nadal produced an incredible level of tennis, getting broken eight times in seven encounters and toppling all his rivals on the return to add the 20th Major crown to his tally. At 34, Nadal became the third-oldest champion in Paris, embracing his fourth Roland Garros journey without losing a set and lifting the 60th ATP title on clay. Nadal ousted Egor Gerasimov in the first encounter and dropped only 13 games in the following 12 sets versus Mackenzie McDonald, Stefano Travaglia and Sebastian Korda.
Rafael Nadal became the first player with 13 finals at a single Major in 2020.
The young Italian Jannik Sinner pushed Rafa to the limits in the opening two sets in the quarter-final, serving for the first at 6-5 but losing it in the tie break. Nadal gained control to seal the deal in straight sets and arrange a tough clash against Diego Schwartzman. In another powerful performance, Rafa scored a 6-3, 6-3, 7-6 victory in just over three hours. He lost ground a bit in the second part of the third set but fixed that in the tie break to advance into his 13th Roland Garros final and steal a massive record from Roger Federer. Battling for the 20th Major title and 13th in Paris, Nadal defeated world no. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes, producing impressive numbers on serve and return to seal the deal in style and write the record books. Rafa failed to reach his 14th Roland Garros final in 2021, but he fixed that this spring, securing the 14th Parisian crown and extending an incredible record that will never get broken.