Rafael Nadal could break Roger Federer's record of most consecutive sets won in Grand Slams

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal
Rudra Biswas
Modified 14 Feb 2021

Rafael Nadal is on a roll at the 2021 Australian Open despite nursing a back injury. The Spaniard has won his first three matches in Melbourne without dropping a single set, and has won 30 consecutive sets in Grand Slams overall.

Nadal is now looking to go level with arch-rival Roger Federer for most conecutive sets won at Slams, which showcases just how dominant he is even in his mid-30s.

The World No. 2's set winning streak began at the 2020 French Open, where he won the trophy without losing a single set in any of his seven matches. Nadal won 21 consecutive sets in Paris last year, and has now won nine more to extend his tally to a career-best 30.

Rafael Nadal is one of just three men to have won 30 or more consecutive sets at the Majors in the Open Era. He only trails Roger Federer's high mark of 36 consecutive sets won in 2006-07, and John McEnroe's tally of 35 consecutive sets won in 1984.

Rafael Nadal has a chance of breaking Roger Federer's record this week in Melbourne

Roger Federer won 36 consecutive sets at Grand Slams in 2006-07
Roger Federer won 36 consecutive sets at Grand Slams in 2006-07

Rafael Nadal has won the last 30 sets he has played at the Grand Slam stage, bettering his own streak of 29 consecutive sets between Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2017.

The Spaniard will have to win both his fourth-round match against Fabio Fognini and his possible last-eight clash with Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets to equal Federer's record. Nadal beating both of those quality opponents in straight sets is not a given though, especially since his back issues haven't yet gone away.

Roger Federer won 36 consecutive sets across the 2006 US Open, the 2007 Australian Open and the 2007 French Open, a period during which he was at his absolute peak. Federer used his precise serve and all-court game to win the 2007 Australian Open without dropping a single set, which accounted for 21 sets in his record streak.

Rafael Nadal has won 30 sets on the trot since Roland Garros last year
Rafael Nadal has won 30 sets on the trot since Roland Garros last year

Winning a Grand Slam without the loss of a set was quite uncommon earlier, and in 2007 Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg were the only two men to have achieved the feat. But the trend would change soon, as Rafael Nadal went on to make a habit out of winning the French Open without dropping a set - doing so in 2008, 2010, 2017 and 2020.

Aside from Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, another man to win more than 30 sets on the trot at the Majors was the mercurial John McEnroe.

McEnroe won 35 consecutive sets between his first-round victory at Wimbledon 1984 and his semifinal win over arch-nemesis Jimmy Connors at US Open 1984. The American won 96.5% of his matches on the pro tour that year, which underlined his dominance.

Published 14 Feb 2021, 18:34 IST
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