Paris : Six memorable Nadal Grand Slam finals. The Spaniards pulls out of the French Open, and says he will likely hang up his racquet after 2024.

Rafael Nadal on Thursday withdrew from the French Open and announced that 2024 will likely be his last season in tennis after a career which brought him 22 Grand Slam titles.

AFP Sport recalls some  of the Spaniard's greatest Slam finals:

1.- Nadal beat Mariano Puerta 6.7 [7/6], 6-3, 6-1, 7-5.

The one that started it all. Nadal came in as an 18-year-old left-hander on the rise, with a huge top spin forehand and expectations to match.

He won all three clay-court lead-up tournaments, in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome and there was a buzz growing around Nadal as he took to court in a sleeveless shirt, prowling like a young matador.

The blasted through the draw taking out Richard Gasquet, Sebastien Grosjean and David Ferrer.

But the real test came in the semi-final against world number one Roger Federer. The pair had never met on clay. It was Nada's 19th birthday and he won 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Little-known Puerta of Argentina, ranked 37, was dispatched in a four set-final and Nadal would not lose another match on the Paris clay until 2009.

2.- Nadal beat Federer 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 [7/5], 6-7 [10/8], 9-7.

A match that is widely remembered as one of the greatest tennis matches of all time, it went to Nadal after an incredible four hours, 48 minutes of action.

Scheduled for a 2pm start, the final began late because of rain, had two more rain delays, and ended in light so bad that the Hawk Eye line-calling system had ceased to work.

Federer clawed back a two-set deficit and saved two match points in the fourth set to take it the distance.

The sheer quality of tennis was like nothing seen before until Federer finally erred, finding the net at 9:21pm to hand Nadal, who fell on his back onto the grass in relief, his first Wimbledon triumph.

3.- Nadal beat Federer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 [7/3],3-6, 6-2.

Nadal came out on top against Federer, this time in a five-set, four-and-a-half-hour thriller.

Unbelievably, the match started less than 24 hours after Nadal had been extended to five hours and 14 minutes in beating country-man Fernando Vaerdasco in a five-set final.

Nadal's incredible feat of recovery and stamina delayed Federer from typing Pete Sampras's then record of 14 Grand Slam titles, and also gave Nadal his first Australian Open. 

4.- Nadal beat Daniil Medvedev 2-6,6-7 [5/7],6-4, 6-4, 7-5.

The 35-year-old Nadal claimed a 21st Slam title with a stunning comeback against Medvedev.

He became the first man in the Open era to win the Australian Open from two sets down, and also saved three break points in the third set. Medvedev said Nadal's performance was ''unreal'' after coming out second-best in a gruelling match which lasted five hours and 24 minutes.

It was the second time Nadal had defeated Medvedev in a major final, after another five-set epic went his way in New York in 2019. [AFP]


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