When Rafael Nadal left Jimmy Connors behind

Since the beginning of the Open era, only four players have reached 40 Major quarter-finals. The first was Jimmy Connors, who stayed competitive for almost two decades despite drawing “only” eight titles from 41 appearances in the last eight. Roger Federer matched the American and moved further away, standing on 58 and keeping his closest opponents behind. Novak Djokovic stands on 51 following a thrilling campaign in 2021, while Rafael Nadal trails seven behind him. Nadal advanced to his 42nd Major quarter-final from 60 appearances at the last year’s Roland Garros, passing Jimmy Connors to stand third on this list. Nadal’s 14th Roland Garros quarter-final and 11th consecutive at Majors came after a convincing 6-1, 6-1 6-2 win over the young American Sebastian Korda in an hour and 55 minutes. The Spaniard saved five out of six break chances to mount the pressure on a qualifier and secured eight breaks from 11 opportunities to march into the quarters without losing a set.

Rafael Nadal reached the 42nd Major quarter-final at last year’s Roland Garros.

Rafa fended off two break chances in the encounter’s first game with service winners and avoided an early setback after four deuces. Korda netted a backhand to find himself 2-0 down, and Nadal secured the third game with a volley winner at the net. Losing ground after a promising start, Sebastian hit a double fault to lose serve again in game four and allowed Rafa to forge a 5-0 lead with a forehand winner. The American held at love with a service winner to finally add his name on the scoreboard before Nadal brought the seventh game home after deuce for 6-1 in 37 minutes. Korda sprayed a forehand error to get broken in the first game of the second set, and Rafa confirmed the lead with a hold at 15. In the third game, Sebastian forced Rafa’s mistake to grab the only game of the set, taking two points on the return in the next one but losing it after netting a backhand.

The youngster sent another backhand wide to suffer a break in game five and served to stay in the set following Nadal’s hold at 15. The Spaniard clinched another break to open a 6-1, 6-1 lead after swift 69 minutes. With nothing to lose, Korda grabbed a break in the third set’s first and held after two deuces to settle into a nice rhythm. Shifting into a higher gear, Nadal claimed the encounter’s remaining games, bouncing back in style and sailing into the quarters. Rafa pulled the break back in game four, held at love and broke at love to forge a 4-2 advantage. Facing two break points at 5-1, Nadal repelled both and sealed the deal with the third straight break in game eight to advance into the quarters.

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