Winning a Grand Slam is a monumental feat in itself. When achieved by someone who is in the twilight years of their career, it’s simply unbelievable. Rafael Nadal has done exactly that this season, twice. 2022 has seen two of the four Grand Slams so far and they have both been won by Nadal. First, it was the Australian Open where the Spaniard beat Daniil Medvedev in the final to lift an unexpected trophy. Rafa then went to Paris for his signature Slam and although he will always be the king of clay, nobody expected the Spaniard to win in 2022. Nadal simply did what he does best, stayed humble and let his tennis do the talking. He beat top seed and tournament favourite Novak Djokovic in a thrilling semi-final bout and went on to beat Casper Ruud in the final. Now, with Wimbledon less than a week away, the situation has not changed. Nobody expects Nadal to win and given his record on grass, he probably will not lift the crown. However, it would be foolish to rule out any of the big three. When the odds are stacked against him, Rafa really does come into his own.
The Spaniard’s best period in the grass court Grand Slam came from 2006 to 2011 when he reached the final five times in six years. The Spaniard had not contested in the one edition where he did not make it to the closing stage of the competition. Out of the five times, he won a couple and lost three. Those two wins are the only ones of Rafa’s career at The Championships. He has obviously had the aim of making that three but so far, has been unsuccessful. Now, 36 years old, the Spaniard might have tapped into his last reserves of brilliant tennis and while it is a long shot, he could just make it three in 2022.
The 2008 Wimbledon final saw what many regard to be the greatest match in the history of tennis. It was the top ranked Roger Federer against the second ranked Rafael Nadal. Pure box office. Federer, at the time, was untouchable on grass. It was Rafa’s third Wimbledon final in a row but he had failed to win the previous couple. After four hours and 48 minutes of high octane tennis action, Rafa beat Roger 6–4, 6–4, 6–7 (5–7), 6–7 (8–10), 9–7. It was redemption for Nadal who had lost both the previous finals against Federer. The Spaniard also broke the Swiss’ five-season Wimbledon winning streak.
Rafa could not defend his title the following year as a knee injury prevented him from taking part in the 2009 Championships. The Spaniard came back in 2010 and reclaimed his crown in spectacular fashion. This time, he was faced with Croatia’s Tomas Berdych in the final. The match was not as enthralling as the one in 2008 but it was still a success for the Spaniard. He beat Berdych 6–3, 7–5, 6–4 to win his second Wimbledon and eighth Grand Slam at the time. Federer was the defending champion but was beaten by Berdych in the quarter-final.