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October 11, 2020, will forever be known as the day when two world records were equaled in two separate sports. Lewis Hamilton equaled Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 F1 wins as he won the Eifel Grand Prix. The win has put Hamilton one step closer to equaling another landmark of Michael Schumacher which is seven Formula One titles. On the same day, Rafael Nadal continued to dominate the French Open as he won for an unprecedented 13th time in Roland Garros by beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets in the final. The win helped him equal Roger Federer’s tally of 20 Grand Slam titles.
Thus, in the year 2020, two great legends of tennis now stand level with 20 Grand Slams apiece. Just to put that in perspective, Nadal’s tally of 13 French Opens is one less than Pete Sampras’ entire Grand Slam tally of 13. And he never won the French Open! Nadal’s 13 titles in a single Grand Slam has extended his record which was broken last year when he smashed Margaret Court’s record of 11 Australian Open titles.
For Lewis Hamilton, it is an affirmation that he is without a doubt one of the greatest F1 racers ever. The fact that he could equal Schumacher and is now on course to become the first driver either to win 100 F1 races or win an unprecedented eighth F1 Grand Prix is testament of his consistency, longevity and the ability to push the boundaries of success to greater levels.
Nadal IS the GOAT
Let us not make any bones about this! It is now safe to assume that Rafael Nadal is the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) than Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Yes, it is now official. Nadal is greater than Federer. Greater than Djokovic. It is for three simple reasons.
Reason No.1, Nadal has won most of his titles by beating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. It was Nadal who ended Federer’ domination in Wimbledon. Consider the fact, his only Australian Open, his four French Open titles, his two Wimbledon titles have all come by beating Roger Federer at his peak.
Reason No.2, Nadal, in addition to Grand Slam success, has secured the Olympic gold in both singles and doubles. He is only the second player after Andre Agassi to complete the Golden Slam, something which Federer and Djokovic have been unable to do.
Reason No.3, Nadal’s domination on clay is unprecedented. Federer and Djokovic have not managed to break down his dominance despite being in peak form. Djokovic lost only one set in the entire tournament before the French Open 2020 final. However, Nadal won the tournament without dropping a set for the fourth time. Djokovic may be dominating Australia, but in the French Open, there can and there will never be another exhibition of dominance like Nadal. For all his achievements, either rename court Philippe Chatrier as Rafael Nadal court or rename the French Open as Rafael Nadal Open.
What might seal Nadal’s greatness is that if he wins the Australian Open for the second time. That will make him only the third men’s player since Rod Laver and Roy Emerson to win all four Grand Slams two or more times.
Just like Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton has won F1 titles in different eras. Prior to 2014, he won two titles with McLaren in the most dramatic circumstances and at a time when the likes of Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were in top form. The rule changes in 2014 which resulted in turbo-hybrid engines brought out the true genius of Lewis Hamilton as he has won four titles in six years.
There is nothing separating the geniuses of Schumacher and Hamilton. Both have set the benchmark high when it comes to success. The only thing in 2020 is that Hamilton is set to push the bar even higher.
The year 2020, which began with zero sports action and plenty of uncertainty, has given us two moments of joy in Hamilton and Nadal’s feats. Truly, it is an epoch-defining day where some records are either meant to be equaled or broken. That day is not too far for both individuals.