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Rafa's Grand Slam reign

Sky Sports logo Sky Sports 15-01-2017 skysports.com

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He is without doubt the undisputed 'King of Clay' with a record-breaking nine titles at Roland Garros and 14th major titles to his name, but can he now end the three-year drought in Melbourne? 

The Spanish great is on the comeback trail after his 2016 season was ruined by a wrist problem which has seen him slip to number nine in the rankings.

Although the 30-year-old has openly admitted he may not hit his best form until later in the year, tennis aficionados will be hoping to see the best of him Down Under.

And with hope of adding to his sole Melbourne title eight years ago, could we see the man from Mallorca produce a huge momentum swing? We delve into the archives to explain why Nadal is one of the greatest...

Teen sensation

At the age of 16 Rafael Nadal became the youngest man to reach the third round of Wimbledon since Boris Becker in 1984.

First French Open

In 2005 the Spaniard defeated the unheralded Mariano Puerta in the final to begin a winning monopoly at Roland Garros.

At the age of 19 he became the first teenager to win a major singles title since Pete Sampras at the US Open in 1990.

The Rafa-Fed dynasty

Nadal broke Argentinian Guillermo Vilas's 29-year record of 53 consecutive clay-court match victories by winning his first round match at the French Open.

He went on to reach his second consecutive final, where, when he became the first player to defeat Roger Federer in a Grand Slam final in 2006.

Hat-trick of titles

Nadal won the French Open for the third straight year, defeating Federer once again in the final.

The brilliant Spaniard only lost four games on his way to a lopsided victory over Federer for the third straight year in 2008.

First Wimbledon crown

Federer was on the receiving end of another major defeat as Nadal landed his first Wimbledon title - 9-7 in the fifth set and in near-darkness.

Gold for Spain

A glorious year ended with a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics after beating Fernando Gonzalez in three sets.

Melbourne King

He became the first player to hold three major titles on three different surfaces at the same time when he won the 2009 Australian Open with a five-set success against that man Federer again.

Shock defeat

A dejected Nadal suffered a stunning loss against Robin Soderling. It was his first-ever defeat on the Parisian clay.

Sweet revenge

A year later he exacted his revenge over the Swede, but this time in the final for his fifth Roland Garros title.

Rafa rules on grass

He followed that up with his second title at the All England club with a straight sets victory over Czech Tomas Berdych.

Career Slam

A remarkable year ended when the world No 1 completed a career Grand Slam by beating Novak Djokovic at Flushing Meadows.

More Fed punishment

Nadal won his sixth French Open title by defeating Federer once more in Paris.

Magnificent seven

And in 2012 he surpassed Bjorn Borg's record to become the most successful player in French Open history with his seventh crown.

Great eight

The Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy was back in Nadal's arms after his straight sets victory over David Ferrer in 2013.

Big in America

That September, he was crowned US Open champion for the second time in his career following a four-set win over Djokovic.

Last major triumph

'The King of Clay' won French Open number nine and record fifth successive time in defeating rival Djokovic in four sets. He was presented with the Coupe de Mousquetaires by another legend of the sport, Bjorn Borg.

The win helped him extend his incredible run at Roland Garros to 66 wins and just one defeat over 10 years.

The wait goes on...

Rafa is still waiting for further major success and 11 Grand Slams on from that last Roland Garros crown, he now heads to the Australian Open fit, healthy and hungry to surpass the great Pete Sampras with a 15th major title. Can he do it?

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