5 Roland Garros records that might never be broken

5 Roland Garros records that might never be broken
Photo by Icon Sport

Tennis is a sport of records and milestones – designed to be broken as new talent emerges. However, there are a few Roland Garros records that I just don’t think will ever be broken. As the only clay court major, this tournament has played host to some extraordinary feats over the years. 

Whether it’s Nadal’s 14 French Open titles or matches lasting 6+ hours, some of the records I’m about to run through are simply outrageous. And since I’m sure you’re eager to see what these Roland Garros records are, let’s jump right in.

Nadal’s 14 French Open titles

Starting with the most obvious one, I seriously doubt that anyone will eclipse Nadal’s 14 Roland Garros titles. This number is simply obscene. And at the time of writing, there’s talk about the possibility of witnessing Nadal’s 15th French Open title. If that happens, I think that would go down as one of the greatest achievements in sporting history.

Just to give those 14 French Open titles some perspective, Pete Sampras won 14 Grand Slam titles in his entire career. I make that comparison because Sampras is 4th on the all-time list of Grand Slam titles on the men’s side. This leaves only Djokovic and Federer with more than 14 Grand Slams, and the fact that Rafa has 14 at a single major is just ridiculous – in a positive way!

When you think of the consistency, ability, and longevity required to achieve such a feat, it’s totally understandable why many see Rafa as a God. And on many occasions, players have stated that playing Nadal at Roland Garros has been the toughest challenge in professional tennis. 

112 French Open match wins – Rafael Nadal

You may have guessed that Nadal’s name would appear a few times in this run-through of the most staggering Roland Garros records. But don’t worry, I won’t make this a ‘Rafael Nadal appreciation post’ – no matter how much this legendary Spaniard deserves one. However, I will highlight and give full credit to this outstanding record.

As you can see, Nadal has won 112 matches at Roland Garros in his career. Again, these figures are just ludicrous. And as things stand, this is the highest number of match wins for any individual player at a specific tournament. Second in line is Roger Federer with 105 match wins at Wimbledon in his career. 

Of course, Federer was the God of grass throughout most of his career, which proves just how magnificent this achievement is for Nadal. Since Rafa is competing at the 2024 French Open, there’s every chance that this number will increase, too. 

The youngest-ever French Open champion – Monica Seles

If you’ve followed tennis for a long time, Monica Seles is a name you’ll be familiar with. I can still remember watching a few Seles matches when I was a child, and I recall being in awe of her powerful groundstrokes. She played double-handed on both sides too, which was quite unique, and her fighting spirit was second to none.

Roland Garros Records Seles
Photo by Icon Sport

As for why she appears in this breakdown of Roland Garros records, Seles won the French Open at just 16 years of age in 1990. Ironically, this was just one year after Michael Chang won the men’s title as a 17-year-old – a record that everyone thought would stand for quite some time. But clearly, Seles had other ideas, and she shocked the world by winning Roland Garros when she was around 9 months younger than Michael Chang.

As for why I believe that this record may never be broken, the game of tennis is just too physical these days for someone so young to win a major. Sure, there are special talents out there like Coco Gauff and Carlos Alcaraz, but even they failed to win such a huge tournament at that age. 

The longest Roland Garros match of all time – 6 hours and 33 minutes

Shifting from youngsters to marathon matches now, we have the record for longest French Open match. This was a colossal 6 hour, 33 minute slugfest in 2004 between Fabrice Santoro and Arnaud Clément. The sheer length alone makes this one almost unbelievable. It was a night match too, with the finish coming close to 1am after play started in the late afternoon/early evening!

What makes this record extra special is that it was played between two French guys. And after more than 6 hours and 33 minutes of pure grit, determination, and top class tennis, it was Santoro who edged out his fellow countryman, 16-14 in the fifth. Santoro all-but collapsed on the court after hitting a backhand winner to seal the win too, which just added to the drama of this game.

Lastly, since the rules regarding fifth sets have now changed for all Grand Slams, I find it highly unlikely that this record will be broken. It would take two extreme grinders, combined with some of the longest rallies and sets that the French Open has ever seen, if this record is to be eclipsed in the future. 

20 Roland Garros appearances – Fabrice Santoro

Come on – we can’t let Rafael Nadal have all of the fun! For the fifth and last of the Roland Garros records I believe will never be broken, we have the same name featuring once again. As you’ve seen from the previous record, Santoro was one of the two players involved in the longest ever French Open match.

But he wasn’t just an epic grinder in his career. He also had incredible longevity, which is why he was able to compete in an incredible 20 Roland Garros tournaments between 1989 and 2009. Believe it or not, during that period, he missed the tournament just once, which was in 1996. That’s quite a staggering achievement.

Roland Garros Records Santoro
Photo by Icon Sport

And while Santoro never made it beyond the 4th round of Roland Garros, he still has his place in history when it comes to Roland Garros records. 

Other noteworthy Roland Garros records that didn’t make the cut

I hope you’ve enjoyed this rundown of the most incredible Roland Garros records that may never be broken. However, I’d like to wrap this up by listing some of the other records that would have made the cut if I expanded the list:

  • 7 French Open titles (females) – Chris Evert
  • Longest women’s singles match – Buisson vs Van Lottum in 1995 (4 hours and 7 minutes)
  • 4 French Open titles without losing a set – Rafael Nadal (2008, 2010, 2017, 2020)
  • Oldest French Open champion – Novak Djokovic in 2023 (36 years and 20 days old)

For me, these are the most significant French Open records that could well survive the test of time. But who knows what might happen at the 2024 French Open? Maybe some of these records will be snapped before our very eyes.

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