By Randy Walker
Every all-time great tennis player not only plays against their opponents and rivals, but against history too.
Players of this ilk always have an eye on their career resumes and are looking to add to legacy in the game with titles, records and accomplishments. Winning a major title is certainly a goal, becoming a world No. 1 is another. Winning an Olympic medal and the Davis Cup are also top goals.
In the case of Rafael Nadal, one big title that has eluded him as been the Miami Open. This title, as well as the year-end ATP World Tour Finals, are the only two big tournaments that Rafael Nadal has never won.
Nadal has been a runner-up in Miami on three occasions – in 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014 – being points away from the title twice. In 2005, was just two points from the title, leading Roger Federer two sets to love and 4-2 in the third set and 5-3 in the third-set tiebreaker, before losing 2-6, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-1 in the best-of-five set final. In 2008, one of Nadal’s best years when he first achieved the No. 1 ranking, he lost the Miami final to No. 4-ranked Nikolay Davydenko 6-4, 6-2, a match he was a heavy favorite to win. In 2011, Nadal won the first set from Novak Djokovic in the final, but eventually lost in three-and-a-half-hour marathon just three points from victory 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), a Nadal double-fault at 2-2 in the decisive tie-breaker being the difference in the match. In 2014, Nadal once again lost to Djokovic, but by a more decisive 6-3, 6-3 scoreline.
Nadal has won nine French Championships, as has been so well documented, as well as two Wimbledon titles, two U.S. Open titles and one Australian Open title. He won Olympic gold in singles in 2008 (and gold in doubles in 2016!) and led Spain to the Davis Cup title four times.
And then there are the ATP 1000 level events, in the past referred to as the “Super 9” of which some have long and storied histories and others that are starting traditions and are only prestigious now due to ATP points and prize money offered. At these events, Nadal has won in Indian Wells three times (2007, 2009 and 2013), Monte Carlo nine times, Rome seven times and also in Madrid in its two incarnations as an indoor hard event in the Fall in 2005 and as a clay event in the Spring in 2010 and 2014.
During the summer hard court season, Nadal has won in Canada three times (2005, 2008 and 2013) and also in Cincinnati in 2013.
Nadal has not won in Shanghai and at the Paris Indoors, two of the more recent additions to this elite level of events, without as much of the history and tradition as the others. Nadal, however, did also win at the German Championships in Hamburg when it was a “Super 9” event in 2008.
By comparison, the only missing titles on Federer’s resume are Monte Carlo and Rome, but has also has won all four major titles, the Davis Cup for Switzerland, Olympic gold in doubles (silver in singles) and the ATP World Tour Finals six times. For Djokovic, Cincinnati remains the missing link on his career resume, in addition to an Olympic gold medal, although the Serbian did win a bronze medal in singles in 2008.