Few realize that we are living in a golden age for the sport of tennis. Saturday morning, Maria Sharapova beat Sarah Errani to complete the career Grand Slam.
Her French Open title was her fourth major title and now she has one of each. And, amazingly, this momentous achievement was only the opening act and is sure to be overshadowed by the men’s final on Sunday morning.
That is not to belittle Sharapova’s achievement, she is only the sixth woman in history to achieve this feet. However, the men’s final this year was described by NBC tennis analyst and former major champion Mary Carillo as a “clash of history.”
When Nadal and Djokovic take the court on Sunday, they both have a chance to achieve tennis immortality.
Nadal has a chance to break the great Bjorn Borg’s record of six French Open victories as the King of Clay (Nadal) seeks his seventh.
Bjorn Borg played in 8 French Opens and won 6 times. Nadal’s career record at Roland Garros is a mind-blowing 51-1 with his only loss coming in 2009 to Robin Soderling. He won the title last year, defeating Roger Federer 7–5, 7–6(7–3), 5–7, 6–1
While Nadal seeks to break Borg’s record, Djokovic has another remarkable achievement in his grasp.
Djokovic has an opportunity to become the first player to hold all 4 majors at the same time since Hall of Famer Rod Laver did it back in 1969. Both Nadal and Roger Federer have had a chance at this feet after winning 3 in a row but failed in the final leg.
In 2011 Nadal fell short of the final hurdle by losing to David Ferrer in the Australian open quarterfinals. Federer had two chances but lost to Nadal in the French Open final in 2006 and 2007.
This also marks the fourth major in a row in which Nadal has faced Djokovic in the final. Djokovic won all three of those matchups but this is the first time he will have to face Nadal on the Spaniard's favorite surface, the red clay of Roland Garros.
It is easy for tennis fans to lose sight of the fact that we are witnessing some of the greatest players in the history of the game.
Yes, tennis has evolved over time and it is very difficult to compare players from different eras but never before have 3 players dominated the game so thoroughly.
Since 2005 only one player has won a major other than the big three (Federer, Nadal and Djokovic) and that was the Argentine Juan Martin Del Potro at the U.S. Open in 2009.
Roger Federer, who many consider the greatest player ever is currently the world number 3 and in 2009, he broke Pete Sampras’ record for the most major championships in men’s tennis history.
Federer currently has 16 majors to Sampras’ 14 but at the rate Djokovic and Nadal are winning, this record will likely be threatened by the time their careers wind down. Nadal has ten and Djokovic has five heading into Sunday’s final.
So if you are a tennis fan, take a moment to savor the greatness you are witnessing because we are truly in a golden age of this sport.
It is not normal to be able to watch some of the best players in history go at it in almost every major final, often turning in instant classics like the last major meeting of Nadal and Djokovic’s at the Australian Open this year.
Djokovic took that epic match 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(5-7), 7-5. As both seek to add another milestone to their long list of accomplishments, the drama is sure to continue as three of the greatest players in history duke it out time and time again on the biggest of stages to the delight of tennis fans worldwide.