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ANALYSIS: The stats, context, and caveats behind the incredible 1001 career wins of Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal just can’t seem to hitting career milestones right now, and the stats behind them only keep getting more impressive.
Rafael Nadal 1000 wins

Rafael Nadal just can’t seem to stop hitting career milestones right now, and the stats behind them only keep getting more impressive.

Nadal won a record 13th Roland Garros title in October which pulled him level with Roger Federer for most career Grand Slam crowns.

He then passed Jimmy Connors for most consecutive weeks in the ATP Top ten, amassing an incredible 15 years in the upper echelons of the world rankings. It’s a record that had stood for 32 years and it will potentially be decades before anyone else can challenge it.

This week, Nadal was at it again. This time it was not a record he broke, but a major career milestone he hit to join an incredibly exclusive club.

The Spaniard beat compatriot Feliciano Lopez at the Paris Masters to claim his 1000th ATP Tour career win – a feat that only three other men in history have achieved. He has since beaten Jordan Thompson to make it 1001.

That, though, only tells part of the story.

Most career wins

Rafael Nadal thumbs up

This list certainly shows just how tough it is to do what Nadal has. It’s a club that you’d certainly expect Novak Djokovic to join within the next couple of years, but that only speaks more to the level required to achieve it.

When even Pete Sampras (762) can't make the top ten, it’s clear that we are talking about a significant accomplishment.

Jimmy Connors – 1274
Roger Federer – 1242
Ivan Lendl – 1068
Guilermo Vilas – 951
Novak Djokovic – 930
Ilie Nastase – 905
John McEnroe – 883
Andre Agassi – 870
Stefan Edberg – 801

Best career win-record

Whilst this statistic is remarkable for Nadal, it does come with caveats. The list is ultimately loaded at the moment because it is not an apples and oranges comparison.

The list is headed by two players currently active and at the peak of their careers with those who have retired or, in Federer’s case, seen their powers begin to wane.

The final figure posted by Nadal (and Djokovic) should they play beyond their peaks will naturally come down, just as Federer’s has, but it will still be right up there and comparable to anyone in history.

Novak Djokovic – 83.10%
Bjorn Borg – 82.37%
Roger Federer – 82.09%
Jimmy Connors – 81.83%
John McEnroe – 81.68%
Ivan Lendl – 81.53%
Rod Laver – 79.78%
Pete Sampras – 77.44%
Andy Murray – 77.17%

Rafael Nadal a clay expert?

Well, yes, and no one can really deny it. Nadal is frankly exceptional on clay, not just within the context of the current era but within the context of history too.

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However, he is also a demonstratively brilliant player on hardcourt too.

In fact, Nadal has won more of his 1001 matches on hard than he has on clay, which flies in the face of popular perception.

Rafael Nadal serving

Of course, while that is a significant statistic, like with the win percentage there is also a major caveat attached.

After all, hardcourt is the most common surface on the ATP Tour by far, so it only stands to reason he has won more matches on that particular surface than any other. You still have to win them, though, and win them he has.

Hardcourt wins: 483 (48%)
Clay court wins: 445 (44%)
Grass court wins: 71 (7%)
Carpet court wins: 2 (<1%)

Who has Nadal beaten the most

Novak Djokovic celebrates ATP Cup

While people consider Nadal’s rivalry with Roger Federer to be the most iconic, it is Djokovic who he has played the most. The Serb is also the player Nadal has beaten the most. Caveat and context: Djokovic has beaten Nadal more, and no one has beaten the Spaniard more.

Nadal has a lengthy history with David Ferrer too, which is understandable considering they emerged from the same system at around the same time.

Novak Djokovic: 27 wins
David Ferrer: 26 wins
Roger Federer: 24 wins
Tomas Berdych: 20 wins
Stan Wawrinka: 19 wins
Andy Murray: 17 wins
Fernando Verdasco: 17 wins
Richard Gasquet: 16 wins

Nadal’s head to head records

Impressively, Nadal has a positive head to head against every single player he has played in his career with just five exceptions.

Borna Coric: 4 matches, 2 wins, 50%
Gaston Gaudio: 6 matches, 3 wins, 50%
Novak Djokovic: 56 matches, 27 wins, 48.2%
Nikolay Davydenko: 11 matches, 5 wins, 45.5%
Dominik Hrbaty, 4 matches, 1 win, 25%

That, of course, means that only two active players do not have a negative record against Nadal - Djokovic and Coric.

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