Rafael Nadal started off the 2022 season with a bang, winning all three of the tournaments he has participated in so far -- the Melbourne Summer Set, the Australian Open and the Mexican Open. The 15-match unbeaten streak the Spaniard is currently on also marks the best-ever start he has had to a season.
Having won all of these matches on hardcourt, the 21-time Grand Slam champion has brought up his third-longest win streak on the surface. A win in his next match will take the Mallorcan level with his second-best streak, where he won 16 consecutive matches between the 2017 US Open and Shanghai Masters.
Seeded first at Flushing Meadows, the World No. 4 raced to his 16th Major and third US Open title while dropping only three sets along the way in 2017. The draw opened up kindly for him as he defeated an unseeded Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals, 24th seed Juan Martin del Potro in the semifinals and 28th seed Kevin Anderson in the final.
The campaign in New York was followed by the China Open, where the former World No. 1 was once again the top seed. He won the ATP 500 event with another dominant display, prevailing over third seed Grigor Dimitrov in three sets in the semifinals and eighth seed Nick Kyrgios in straight sets in the final.
In the subsequent Shanghai Masters, the top seed raced to the final with victories over Fabio Fognini (third round), Dimitrov once again (fourth round) and Marin Cilic (semifinals). In the final, however, Nadal could not keep up the momentum and fell to Roger Federer in straight sets, bringing an end to a 16-match win streak.
Rafael Nadal needs to win 11 more consecutive matches on hardcourt to equal his best-ever winning streak on the surface
Rafael Nadal's best-ever win streak on hardcourt came back in 2013, when he won 26 matches on the trot between the Indian Wells Masters and the China Open.
Seeded fifth in Indian Wells, the 21-time Grand Slam champion defeated defending champion Roger Federer (quarterfinals), Berdych (semifinals) and Juan Martin del Potro (final) to win his third title at the tournament.
Nadal also won the subsequent Canadian Open, prevailing over two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semifinals and Milos Raonic in the final. At the Cincinnati Masters, he once again beat defending champion Federer in the quarterfinals and Berdych in the semifinals before dwarfing John Isner in the final.
What followed was the US Open, where Nadal, seeded second, dismantled top seed Djokovic in the final hurdle to win his second title at Flushing Meadows and 13th Major overall. The streak finally ended at the China Open, where the Serb avenged his US Open loss by trumping the Mallorcan in straight sets in the final.
It should be noted that the streak effectively becomes 30 matches long when the World No. 4's withdrawal from the 2012 Miami Masters final is taken into consideration. He won his first four matches in Miami before giving a walkover to Andy Murray, thereby stitching together 30 wins without an official loss against his name.