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Rediff.com  » Sports » Nadal follows Federer into elite French Open club

Nadal follows Federer into elite French Open club

Last updated on: June 7, 2012 17:20 IST

Nadal is the sixth player to win 50 matches at Roland Garros

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When Rafael Nadal beat Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals at the French Open on Wednesday he became only the sixth player to win 50 singles matches at Roland Garros. Bikash Mohapatra presents the elite list of players to achieve the feat.

Rafael Nadal entered this year's French Open as the favourite to break Bjorn Borg's record.

The legendary Swede played eight years at Roland Garros, winning the tournament on six occasions. This year marked Nadal's eighth appearance at the French capital.

With the Spaniard having won the clay court major for six of the last seven years, another win will ensure him a seventh, the most in the Open era.

While Nadal remains on track to achieve that feat, he has got past another personal landmark of Borg en route.

The second seed's comfortable 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-3 win over compatriot Nicolas Almagro in the quarter-finals on Wednesday was his 50th on the red dirt in Paris, as against just one loss (against Swede Robin Soderling in 2009).

Borg had a 49-2 career record in the tournament.

The win also made Nadal only the sixth player to win 50 singles matches at Roland Garros, considered the toughest of the four Grand Slams. 

Click NEXT to check out the others in the list.


Image: Rafael Nadal of Spain slides across the clay to play a backhand during his men's singles match at the French Open
Photographs: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

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Federer preceded Nadal in the list

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Nadal's arch rival, one of his possible opponents in Sunday's decider, Roger Federer preceded the Spaniard in the elite club.

The Swiss, seeded third and playing in his 50th successive Grand Slam, reached the landmark following a straight sets demolition of German Tobias Kamke in the opening round.

The win also helped Federer tie Jimmy Connors' record for most Grand Slam match wins (233), which he subsequently overtook by winning his second round match.

Unlike Nadal, who relishes playing in Paris and has beaten his rival in as many as four finals (2006-08 and 2011) at the venue, Federer's results at the French Open are his least impressive vis-a-vis the other three majors.

The Spaniard's domination in the tournament has allowed the Swiss just a solitary title (in 2009) in 13 appearances, but one that helped him complete a career slam.


Image: Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a forehand
Photographs: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

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Vilas was first player to win 50 matches

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Guillermo Vilas was the first player to win 50 matches at the French Open.

The legendary Argentine finished with an impressive 56-17 record at the clay court major, a mark that will stand for another year at least.

However, despite his many match wins Vilas managed to win the tournament just once, despite making it to the final on four occasions.

Bjorn Borg dominated the tournament in that decade -- the Argentine finishing second best to the Swede in two finals (1975 and 1978).

However, in 1977 (a year in which he dominated the circuit), Vilas capitalized on Borg's early exit -- the Swede losing to Adriano Panatta in the quarters -- to take home the coveted trophy.

The Argentine made it to the final one last time (in 1982). However, another Swede, Mats Wilander was too good for him on that day. 


Image: Guillermo Vilas of Argentina follows through on his backhand during a match in the 1982 French Open
Photographs: Steve Powell/Getty Images

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Lendl won the French Open thrice

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En route to his sixth title in Paris, Bjorn Borg had to withstand the resistance of a young opponent.

The Swede eventually sealed the win, but the match marked the arrival of Ivan Lendl on the big stage.

Following that breakthrough, the Czech won a plethora of tournaments but major successes eluded him in the next few years.

In 1984, Lendl again made it to the final at Roland Garros. His opponent on the day, John McEnroe, though playing in his first final at the French capital was in rampant form having not lost a match till that point.

The American raced to a two-set lead before the Czech mounted a spectacular comeback, eventually ending his Grand Slam drought.

Lendl won the French Open twice more (in 1986-87), while finishing second best to Mats Wilander in the 1985 final.

He has a 53-12 career record in the tournament. 


Image: Czech Ivan Lendl celebrates winning the final of the French Open at Roland Garros in 1984. Lendl beat John McEnroe 3-6, 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 7-5
Photographs: Steve Powell/Getty Images

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Agassi, Pietrangeli also achieved the feat

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Andre Agassi's first success in the French Open came in 1988, his breakthrough year, when he reached the semi-finals.

Two years later, the American reached final. However, despite being the favourite he couldn't get past Ecuadorean veteran Andres Gomez.

There was more disappointment in store the following year, when compatriot Jim Courier got the better of him (in five sets) in the decider.

Agassi had to wait eight years before getting another shot at the title. When Andrei Medvedev led by two sets in the 1999 final, the American seemed set to finish second best again.

However, to his credit he did not let the opportunity slip, scoring a come from behind win to capture his first (and only) title at Roland Garros, one that helped him achieve the career slam.

Agassi reached the last eight on three further occasions and eventually ended with a 51-16 record in the tournament.

Nicola Pietrangeli is also member of the club. The Italian won 50 matches, appearing in four singles finals at Roland Garros.

He won the title twice (in 1959-60), while finishing runner-up to Spaniard Manuel Santana in both 1961 and 1964. It is imperative here to mention that Pietrangeli played most of his tennis before the open era, when entry to major tournaments was a restricted affair. 


Image: Andre Agassi of the USA during a match at the French Open
Photographs: Phil Cole/Getty Images

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