Can Rafael Nadal end his career with the most Grand Slam titles?

"I always say the same, that I would love to finish my career being the player with more Grand Slams." Those were the words of Rafael Nadal after his French Open victory last year, and if it was the case that all four of tennis' Grand Slams were played on clay, then we are sure there would be no competition for the 34-year-old. However, unfortunately for the Spaniard, they are not, and that is why he is up against it if he truly wants to finish his career with the most major titles.

Last year, Nadal's record-extending 13th French Open triumph brought him level with Roger Federer on an impressive 20 Grand Slam titles. But, whilst Nadal excels on the clay courts of Paris' Roland Garros, he arguably lacks the skill of his counterparts, namely Federer and Novak Djokovic, on the other surfaces.

In his career, which spells back to 2003, Nadal has won the Australian Open just once, Wimbledon twice and the US Open four times. Of course, that is nothing to turn your nose up at, many professionals would love to boast that haul of Slams, let alone the whopping 13 French Opens on top of that. But for someone of Nadal's standards, it is disappointing that he has not been able to get as good a grip on the other tournaments as he has on the French Open.

2010 was the last time he won at Wimbledon, whilst the following year was his last outing in the final of the English championship. His sole victory in Melbourne came way back in 2009, and with four finals since then, it is hard to believe that he has not added to that victory 12 years ago. But with defeat coming to Federer and Djokovic (x2) in three of those four finals, it shows their superior ability on that surface over Nadal, just as the Spaniard's recent 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 triumph over Djokovic at Roland Garros proves his dominance on clay.

Flushing Meadows is somewhere that Nadal has found a bit of form in recent years, however. In the last decade, he has won the US Open four times, with his two most recent victories coming in 2017 and 2019, whilst a run to the semi-finals was shoved in between. Last year, the Spaniard chose not to defend his American Grand Slam crown due to safety concerns around the coronavirus pandemic, but this year he'll certainly be hoping to regain his title.

With the Australian Open approaching, Nadal is the second favourite behind Djokovic - according to Betdaq. But it is going to take something special from the World No.2 if he wants to stop the Serbian from winning his record-extending ninth title, and his third successive victory Down Under. With the news that his coach won't be making the trip to Melbourne due to covid travel restrictions, that task is made even harder for Nadal.

Another triumph for Djokovic at Melbourne Park would really have Federer and Nadal sweating. That would take the Serbian to 18 Grand Slam titles, whilst he would fancy his chances of reaching 20 by the end of the year, given his recent success at Wimbledon and previous victories at Flushing Meadows. That aside, the World No.1 also has an age advantage over both Federer and Nadal. So, in the long run, you would have to fancy his chances of overtaking the pair in terms of Grand Slam titles.

The long-awaited return of Federer also poses a threat to Nadal's Grand Slam hopes. The Swiss legend is set to miss the Aussie Open but should return for the other three Grand Slams later in the year. However, just four Grand Slam victories since 2011 will provide a glimmer of hope for both Djokovic and Nadal.

If Nadal wants the GOAT status and to finish his career with the most Grand Slam titles, then there is no question that he will need to win more than just the French Open throughout the next couple of years.

If he can do that, then there is no reason why he can't retire with the greatest haul of major trophies. From there, if Djokovic does overtake him, then it doesn't really matter, as the goal is to retire with the most!

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