When Nadal broke McEnroe’s unbeaten record

The Spaniard broke the record for consecutive victories on the same surface

May 12, 2024


Rafael Nadal holds the record for most consecutive victories on the same surface.
By Staff

“It was one of the most difficult matches I have ever played on clay.” The phrase belongs to Rafael Nadal and he uttered it on Saturday, May 12, 2007, shortly after beating Nikolay Davydenko in the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia 7-6 (3), 6-7 (8), 6- 4.

The Spaniard, who had won the two previous editions in Rome, needed three hours and 39 minutes to overcome his rival who was tagged as fourth seed that afternoon. “I have run the risk of losing it,” added the Spaniard who that day won again on Italian soil, just as he had done in the fifteen previous matches that he recorded in the tournament.

However, that spectacular 16-0 record in Rome was not the most surprising thing that day. In the stands, watching as Nadal got his ticket to his third final, was John McEnroe, who upon his retirement had set the record of 75 consecutive victories on the same surface between September 1983 and April 1985.

In that period, the American was unbeatable on the old carpet. And no one had been able to take the brand away from him until Nadal emerged as the undisputed king of the clay court. Then, the Spaniard was a few weeks away from turning 21 and had already had enough time to catch up with the American myth.

The Manacorí opened his unbeaten stage in April 2005 and in the semifinals of Rome 2007 he added his 76th win, leaving McEnroe behind. “I knew that this crazy man is unbeatable now. The quality of his game is extraordinary,” the American said then in reference to the Spaniard.

Nadal didn’t stop there. A day later he defeated Fernando González 6-2, 6-2 to win his ninth ATP Masters 1000 of the 36 in his record today.

From Italy he traveled with 77 consecutive wins to the old Hamburg Masters, where he raised the number to 81. Just before facing Roger Federer in the final, who with a result of 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 put an end to the longest streak of any player so far on the same surface.

PS: That defeat did not prevent the Spaniard from taking revenge shortly after in Paris by conquering Roland Garros against Federer himself.


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