He's experienced close calls throughout each of his 12 Roland Garros title runs. But every time, Rafael Nadal has ultimately shown a killer instinct. Today, we look back at the Spaniard's sublime run to a fourth successive title in the French capital.
2008 FRENCH OPEN
What word describes Nadal’s mood at the crown jewel of the clay season in 2008? Hangry. For the first time in Paris, Nadal entered on the back of defeat, having gone down to countryman Juan Carlos Ferrero in his Rome opener. Was his Roland Garros run vulnerable? That question was answered with a resounding no. With Rome firmly in Nadal’s rear-view mirror, he showed no leniency, devouring every challenger in his path. Surrendering just 41 games over 21 sets, this was Nadal’s most dominant fortnight up to this point by far and cemented his moniker as the King Of Clay.
Most impressive win: Final; Nadal d. Federer, 6-1, 6-3, 6-0
Ruthless all tournament long, Nadal saved his very best for last. Passing-shot lasers, baseline wizardry and steady serving were all dialed up to the max in a clinical performance where Hurricane Rafa handed Roger Federer the worst Grand Slam defeat of his career. Nadal equaled Bjorn Borg’s Open Era record of four consecutive French Open titles and furthered his claim as the best in the world, later substantiated after toppling Federer in the 2008 Wimbledon final in what many consider the greatest match of all time.
Closest call: Semifinals; Nadal d. Djokovic, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (3)
No player was able to win a set off Nadal. In fact, 2008 Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic was the only competitor to force a tiebreaker after Nadal failed to serve out their semifinal at 5-4 in the third set. Unfazed, Nadal raced out to a 6-0 lead and sealed his fourth match point with an overhead winner for his 27th straight Roland Garros victory.