3 milestones awaiting Rafael Nadal at the 2020 Australian Open
Rafael Nadal has been a standout performer during his near two-decade professional career. Forming one-third of men's tennis' famed Big-3 trifecta of Roger Federer, himself and Novak Djokovic, Nadal's tally of 19 Grand Slam titles is only one behind Federer's all-time tally of 20.
One of only three players with a cumulative positive head-to-head record (50-44) against Federer and Djokovic - the others being Filippo Volandri (2-1) and Dominic Thiem (9-8) - Nadal has won 10 of his Grand Slam titles at the expense of his Big-3 peers Federer (6) and Djokovic (4).
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The all-time title leader (35) and match win leader (384) in Masters 1000 tournaments, Nadal possesses the best win-loss record (83.2%) of any player to have played over 200 matches. The Spaniard (767 weeks as on 30th December 2019) has been ranked in the top-10 of the ATP rankings for more weeks than any player other than Federer (897) and Jimmy Connors (816).
With 271 match wins in Grand Slams, Nadal trails only Federer (357) and Djokovic (280). At the first Grand Slam of the year, Nadal's 61 match wins are only behind those of Federer (97) and Djokovic (68).
However, the Australian Open hasn't been a happy ground for the Spaniard. Except for a lone title in 2009, the Spaniard has fallen in 4 finals at the tournament, most recently to Djokovic in 2019 - which also marked the first time Nadal suffered a straight set defeat in a Major final.
On that note, let us look at three milestones Nadal would accomplish if he were to lift his second title at the Australian Open in 2020.
#1 Go level with Federer's all-time Grand Slam title tally of 20
Nadal lifted his fourth title at the US Open in 2019 after beating an inspired Daniil Medvedev in a five-set final. In the process, the Spaniard lifted his 19th Grand Slam title to pull to within 1 of Federer's all-time tally of 20 titles.
This is the closest Nadal has been to Federer's Grand Slam title haul since the Swiss maestro made his Grand Slam breakthrough at 2003 Wimbledon.
If the southpaw does win his second title at the Australian Open in 2020, he will go level atop the all-time Grand Slam title leaderboard. That would mark the first time in the Open Era two active players would share the all-time Grand Slam title lead.
Pete Sampras (14) had long retired when Federer won his 14th Grand Slam title at the 2009 French Open.