Rafael Nadal now has now won all four majors. Playing in the modern era, as the 24-year-old Spaniard does, makes the feat even more impressive than it already seems.
Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Fred Perry and Rod Laver -- four of the seven men to accomplish the feat -- are legends. But they starred during a time in which three of the four Grand Slams were played on grass. The U.S. Open went from grass (1881-1974) to clay (1975-77) and finally to hard court in 1978. The Australian Open was played on grass until 1988, when it became a hard court event.
Nadal, already a two-time Wimbledon champ, does not appear to have a game built for quick-moving grass courts. Until recently, many of his baselining countrymen often skipped the All England Club each summer. And the U.S. Open, which many people think features an even faster surface than Wimbledon, used to be the bane of Nadal’s existence.
But not any more. Nadal’s much-improved serve seemed to make the difference over the past two weeks. He joins Roger Federer and Andre Agassi in the select group of men’s players who have won all four majors in their current incarnation.
For Nadal, there’s really only one thing left to chase: the career Grand Slam titles record held by Roger Federer, who has 16. Nadal has nine. Here’s hoping they meet again in many more major finals.