Top ten ATP winning streaks: How does recent stunning Rafael Nadal run compare?
Rafael Nadal started the 2022 season with a superb 20-match winning streak that seemingly came out of nowhere following injury.
That streak was ended by Taylor Fritz at Indian Wells last week, and injury means it may be a while before he can start another.
However, a 20-match winning streak is to be celebrated, so let’s do just that by running through the best streaks in men’s tennis history to see how Nadal’s latest effort compared.
Juan Martin del Potro (2008) – 23
It is always nice to see Juan Martin del Potro on these kinds of lists, because it reminds us just how brilliant he was before injuries robbed us all of his best tennis.
His 23-match winning streak in 2008 brought him four ATP titles – Kitzbuhel, Stuttgart, Citi Open, and Los Angeles Open and it hauled his ranking up to inside the top 15 in the world.
A year later, Del Potro became a Grand Slam champion for the only time at the US Open.
Andy Murray (2016-17) – 28
It was actually Andy Murray who halted Del Potro’s streak at 23 in 2008, and it’s a total that he went on to better himself.
No one will be surprised to hear that it came during his unreal run in 2016 when he became world number one for the only time in his career.
Murray finished the 2016 season on fire, winning 24 matches to claim titles in Paris, Shanghai, and the ATP Finals. His winning streak extended into 2017 too, before he was beaten by Novak Djokovic in the final of the Doha Open.
Rafael Nadal (2008) – 32
While Nadal’s 20-match winning streak at the start of 2022 was incredible, it didn’t even come close to his best.
What may surprise people is that his best streak didn’t come entirely on clay. His 32-match streak included titles on the red dirt in Hamburg and at Roland Garros, but it didn’t stop there.
He also won a grass double at Queens and Wimbledon and, just to complete the set, won a hardcourt title at the Canada Open too.
It was going to take something special to stop him that year and, as more often than not, that turned out to be Novak Djokovic, who bested Nadal in the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters.
Thomas Muster (1995) – 35
Before Rafael Nadal was the King of Clay, it was Thomas Muster who wore that crown.
All 35 of Muster’s wins during the streak came on clay, and ran from Estoril at the start of April, through Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Rome, St Poelten and Roland Garros.
Alex Corretja eventually stopped him at Gstaad. Not that the losing lasted very long, of course, with Muster winning his next tournament in Stuttgart.
Roger Federer (2006-07) – 41
No one will be surprised to see Federer on this list, but the fact so many are ahead of him is perhaps unexpected.
Federer finished 2006 in exceptional form, winning the US Open and the ATP Finals with his customary aplomb.
If his rivals were hoping the close-season break would stunt his momentum, he made them think again.
The Swiss star started 2007 by rattling off titles at the Australian Open and in Doha before a shock first round defeat to lucky loser Guillermo Canas at Indian Wells ended the streak.
Curiously, Canas got the better of Federer again two weeks later at the Miami Open too.
John McEnroe (1983-84) – 42
Compile any list of tennis greats and John McEnroe will never be far from it.
The 1983 season ended with disappointment for McEnroe as he lost out in the Australian Open semi-finals, but that only seemed to motivate him more.
He immediately embarked on a 42-match winning streak that saw him win titles in Philadelphia, Richmond, Madrid, Brussels, Dallas and Dusseldorf.
Ivan Lendl ended the streak in the final of the 1984 French Open.
Novak Djokovic (2011) – 43
It sometimes feels like however exceptional the achievements of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic just manages to top them.
That is the case here with Djokovic enjoying the ‘big three’ bragging rights for longest winning streaks.
Djokovic has had plenty of these streaks, but this was his best, as you’d likely expect given he won ten titles during the 2011 season.
This streak was eventually ended by Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the French Open.
Bjorn Borg (1978) – 43
Bjorn Borg was nearly unbeatable for a spell in the seventies, as competitors at Wimbledon and Roland Garros will attest.
Grass and clay again delivered for him here too, with titles in Milan, Rome, Roland Garros and Wimbledon forming the backbone of this extraordinary winning streak.
Fittingly, iconic rival John McEnroe ended the streak, getting the better or Borg in the semi-finals of Stockholm.
Ivan Lendl (1981-82) – 44
Lendl was a baseliner pioneer and when he was in his pomp few seemed to have the tools to resist his power from the back of the court.
No one should be surprised to learn that he steamrollered opponents for 44 matches straight across 1981 and 1982.
The streak started in Madrid at the end of September and lasted until the final of La Quinta in February. That was seven successive titles worth of wins.
Guillermo Vilas (1977) – 46
Our list started with an Argentinian, so it is only fitting that it should end with one too.
Guillermo Vilas’ stunning 46-match winning streak was so good that it still stands as a record to this day.
His streak included titles at Kitzbuhel, Washington DC, Louisville, South Orange and Columbus, and he capped the lot off with a US Open title.
It was actually the last US Open to be held on clay before the switch to hardcourts.
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