Rafael Nadal’s French Open triumphs: Then and Now
Rafael Nadal has added insurance to his place in the history books of not just tennis, but sport in general, last night. He has accomplished something that even he admits he could not have dreamt of when he won his first French Open title at the Roland Garros, let alone as a young kid who started playing tennis at 4.
As the world marvels at Rafael Nadal’s record-extending 11th French Open title, let us take a step back in time, and look at things in perspective. Rafael Nadal is now the first man, in any era, and only the second player ever to win a particular Grand Slam Single’s title 11 times; yes, ELEVEN times! A lot has happened in the sporting world between his first and eleventh titles. Heroes have emerged and subsided, new formats have been introduced, history has been rewritten, and controversies have been created that shook up the entire sporting world. History changing events have occurred across sports, but it is difficult to take stock of all of them in one single article, so we look at a few sports and few events that highlight just how long back in the sporting context it was that Nadal triumphed at Roland Garros for the first time, and how much has happened until now, when he has won his 11th title there.
As a testament to the remarkable nature of this feat, in terms of both longevity and sustenance of abilities, let us look at what’s transpired in the sporting world across this timeline, from June 5, 2005, to June 10, 2018. We take a look at 5 sports and sporting events: cricket, football, the Olympic Games, basketball, and of course, tennis. What I have done is handpicked two to three events or timelines within this thirteen year period that does not accentuate Nadal’s achievement, but does justice to it. For a player who has struggled with injuries throughout his ongoing career, it would only be fair to look at this feat in the light it deserves, by drawing comparisons with what his contemporaries across sports have done while he has continued to thump his competition at the red clay in Paris.
The Indian Premier league was yet to make its debut. To understand the gravity of this, note that Star India won just the media rights for the IPL for a whopping INR 16,347.50 crores in last year’s media rights auction.
Mohammad Amir (born April 1992) became a teenager, made his test debut, got caught for spot-fixing, served a five-year ban and was reselected for the Pakistan National side.
Virat Kohli got selected for the India Under-19 team and led the one-day team to victory at the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2008. He is currently India’s captain in all forms of international cricket (senior) and holds the second position in the list of most ODI centuries in the history of the game (only 14 shy of Tendulkar’s all-time record).