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Busted Racquet

Rafa has never won French as top seed and 37 more Nadal facts

Busted Racquet

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nadal fo trophy 05

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal enters the 2011 French Open with a staggering record at the tournament. To honor Nadal's Roland Garros dominance, Busted Racquet lists 38 facts about Nadal's French Open history, one for each of the matches he's won at the year's second Grand Slam.

1. Nadal has played 39 matches at the French Open. He's won 38.

2. He won his first 31 matches at the tournament before his stunning fourth-round upset in 2009.

3. Of the 123 sets Nadal has completed at Roland Garros, he's won 113.

4. That's a winning percentage of 91.9.

5. It sounds impressive until you consider that he's won 97.4 percent of his matches.

6. He hasn't lost a set since losing to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of 2009.

7. He hasn't lost a set in a victory since dropping the second to Federer in the 2007 final.

8. Nadal has played Novak Djokovic three times in Paris. He hasn't dropped a set in any of their meetings.

9. In his 39 French Open matches, Nadal has only played one American: Kevin Kim, 2006 second round.

10. He's played fellow Spaniards six times, the most of any nation.

11. The highest-ranked player he's beaten? Federer (No. 1), four times.

12. The lowest ranked? Gianni Mina (No. 655), first round, 2010.{YSP:more}

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nadal celebrates fo 10 320

13. His hardest road to the title was 2006 when he beat five players in the top 26 and three in the top 20.

14. The easiest road was last year. Soderling (No. 7) was the highest seed Nadal beat in the tournament. He didn't play any other players ranked in the top 20.

15. Don't peek: Who did Nadal defeat to win his first French Open title? The answer is below, lined up with the player's rank at the time of the match.

16. Nadal became the first man since Mats Wilander in 1982 to win the French in his tournament debut.

17. He was 19 years old at the time.

18. Nadal entered the tournament having won all three clay court events he entered in 2005. He was considered a favorite to win, along with Federer.

19. The first player Nadal beat at the French was Lars Burgsmuller of Germany.

20. After the match, he admitted he was nervous. "My idea was to look at this as one more match, with nothing really special about it," he said.

21. The next year he would defeat Federer in the final and go on to do it again over the following two tournaments.

22. After his second win over Federer, Nadal said, "I am very happy, but I am really sad for Roger. He is a friend, and I know he is a great champion, whether he wins or loses."

23. The third win over Federer was such a thorough dismantling (6-1, 6-3, 6-0) that the Parisian crowd took to whistling and booing Nadal winners. (The Swiss player hadn't been bageled in a set since 1999.)

24. It was the biggest rout in a Grand Slam final since Wimbledon 1984 when John McEnroe lost four games to Jimmy Connors.

25. Nadal didn't lose a set that entire tournament, becoming the first man to do that at Roland Garros since Bjorn Borg in 1980.

26. He would duplicate the feat in 2010.

27. The win also gave Nadal his fourth-straight French title, also tying him with the Swedish legend.

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nadal soderling fo 09 net

28. Going in to the 2009 tournament, Nadal was a 1-4 favorite to win, meaning you had to bet four dollars on him to win one.

29. Soderling was ranked No. 29 in the world at the time of his upset.

30. Before the match, he was 48-1 to win. When Buster Douglass stunned Mike Tyson in 1990, he was a 42-1 favorite.

31. Betting $163 on Soderling would have netted a gambler $7,863 that day.

32. Nadal lost 25 games in his match against Soderling. The previous year, it took him until the semifinal to lose that many games combined.

33. The Mallorcan got his revenge last year, defeating Soderling in straight sets in the final.

34. His Uncle Toni said it was "one of the best matches I've ever seen Rafael play."

35. The victory gave him five for his career, one short of tying Borg.

36. Nadal has never played a five-set match at the tournament.

37. Mariano Puerta. Nadal defeated him 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5

38. Even during his four-tournament winning streak, Nadal was never seeded No. 1 in Paris. He has not won the French Open as the top seed.

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