5 players who are unbeaten against Rafael Nadal in tournament finals
- These five players never lost to the legendary Spaniard in the final of a tournament.
Rafael Nadal is one of the greatest players to have wielded a tennis racquet in the Open Era. Aside from winning a record 35 Masters 1000 titles, Nadal's 19 Grand Slam triumphs are only one shy of Roger Federer's record tally of 20.
The Spaniard is the only player to win 12 titles at a single Grand Slam (Roland Garros), while his 11 titles at Monte Carlo represent the highest haul by any player at a Masters 1000 tournament.
Nadal, who became the oldest year-end no. 1 in 2019, lifted his first title of the 2020 season at Acapulco which extended his record of consecutive title-winning seasons to 17. Only Andre Agassi and Roger Federer (18 apiece) have had more title-winning seasons than the Spaniard, albeit in non-consecutive seasons.
The 33-year-old's 85 singles titles are only behind that of Jimmy Connors (109), Roger Federer (103), and Ivan Lendl (94) while his 85-38 record in tournament finals places him 10th all-time.
However, despite his stellar record in finals, there are a few players Nadal has never managed to defeat in a summit clash.
Here, we take a look at 5 players who have never lost to Nadal in a tournament final.
#5 Sam Querrey (1-0)
On the back of a defeat in the 2017 Australian Open final where he relinquished a 3-1 fifth set lead against Roger Federer, Nadal reached his second final of the year on the hardcourts of Acapulco.
Making his first final at the tournament since lifting his second title in 2013, Nadal was the favourite against the big-serving American Sam Querrey, who had lost to the Spaniard in each of their previous four meetings.
However, on the day, it was Querrey who came out all guns blazing, firing 19 aces and winning more than 60% of his second serve points to beat Nadal in straight sets and lift the biggest title of his career.
#4 Horacio Zeballos (1-0)
Locking horns with Nadal for the first time since losing to him in the second round of the 2010 French Open, Horacio Zeballos looked set for more heartbreak as he dropped the first set of their 2013 Vina Del Mar Open clash on a tiebreak.
Zeballos, who was playing only his second tournament final, somehow managed to extend the contest by taking the second set on a tiebreak. He then managed to stave off the challenge from the Spaniard, dropping just four games in the decider to win the only title of his singles career.
This remains the only time Nadal lost to a left-hander in a tournament final, having won 3 such match-ups (2005 Roland Garros - Mariano Puerta, 2010 Monte Carlo - Fernando Verdasco, and 2017 Monte Carlo - Albert Ramos Vinolas) in the past.
#3 Mikhail Youzhny (1-0)
Mikhail Youzhny, who had split his 6 previous hardcourt meetings with then 3-time Roland Garros champion Nadal, squared off against the Spaniard in the final of the 2008 Chennai Open.
In one of his most lopsided defeats on hardcourt - or, for that matter, on any surface - Nadal won only one game in the entire match as Youzhny blitzed his way to his fourth career singles title in under an hour.
That was the fourth and final time Nadal lost to the Russian, as he went on to win seven consecutive matches against Youzhny without dropping a set.
#2 Nikolay Davydenko (3-0)
Having beaten the Spaniard in the 2008 Miami Open and 2009 Shanghai Masters final, Nikolay Davydenko would have fancied his chances in the pair's last meeting in a title match at the 2010 Doha Open.
Nadal looked on course for his first win over the Russian in a tournament final, bagelling Davydenko in the opener before arriving at championship point on two separate occasions in the second set tiebreak.
However, Davydenko won both of those points and restored parity before taking the decider 6-4 and improving his record to 3-0 against the Spaniard in title matches. That remains the only occasion in his illustrious career that Nadal squandered championship points at a tournament.
#1 Dominik Hrbaty (1-0)
Dominik Hrbaty was the first player to maintain a spotless record against Nadal in a tournament final.
In his first tournament final at 2004 Auckland, the then 17-year-old Spaniard took the opening set 6-4 to inch closer to his first-ever singles title but it was not to be as Hrbaty dropped only two games in the second set to draw level. He then took the third set 7-5 for his 5th singles title.
Hrbaty is one of only 9 players to have a positive head-to-head record against Nadal and the only player to win his first three matches against the 19-time Grand Slam champion.Published 12 Mar 2020, 16:31 IST