Without a lot else going on Saturday morning American sports fans watched and acknowledged how great Serena Williams is. She captured her 16th major championship by beating Maria Sharapova in straight sets at the French Open Final. It was her second career title at Roland Garros.
As mentioned last week, Williams has become one of the supperior athletes of our time. Meanwhile, on Sunday Rafael Nadal did Williams one better. Or, six better. For the eighth time since coming to Rolland Garros as a 19 year old in 2005, Nadal was victorious at the French Open. What he has accomplished is unmatched.
Nadal's victory made him the first men's player to win any one major title more than seven times. He earned his 12th career grand slam championship passing Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver, and tying him with Roy Emerson for third all time. His victory makes him without question the most dominating force on a single surface in the history of the sport.
By beating fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in three sets on Sunday, after knocking off Novak Djokovic 9-7 in the fifth set of perhaps the greatest French Open semifinal ever on Friday, Nadal improved to 59-1 at Roland Garros. In 60 career matches at the championship he has lost 18 total sets.
In four of his eight French Open titles Nadal has beaten Roger Federer in the championship. Federer's 17 major championships are an all time record. In fact, the only reason Federer has completed the career grand slam is because he won the French Open in 2009 when Robin Soderling knocked out Nadal in the fourth round. Federer is regarded as the greatest player of all time. Nadal is 20-10 in head-to-head matches with Federer.
And it is not as if all Nadal does well is play on clay. He is one of only three players to capture the career Grand Slam since 1964 and one of seven players ever to win all four major championships. This is a list that does not include Pete Sampras, Borg, Bill Tilden, Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl or John McEnroe.
Furthermore, Nadal has become one of the four most frequent champions during an era that has included the best player of all time, Federer, and Djokovic, a six time major champion. His professional career has bridged Federer and Djokovic's prime, not exactly the competition that Williams has dealt with for much of her run.
Finally, the most recent title for Nadal came after he withdrew from the last two major championships and the Olympics because of injuries. He did not play competitively between winning last year's French Open and participating February's VTR Open in Chile. Nadal has been banged up throughout his career including his most recent knee injury that set him back nine months.
Playing in a Golden Era and dominating the French Open while winning four other Grand Slam titles is an accomplishment unmatched. Doing so with injuries is that much more impressive. It has taken the U.S. public years to appreciate an American champion in Williams. Outside of a few uber superstar athletes, Nadal is as dominant and great a champion as the world possesses.