Tennis: Top five players to win Grand Slam without dropping a set

Sayantan Chakraborty

April 8 2023
Tennis Grand Slam Grand Slams without dropping sets

Rafael Nadal & Bjorn Borg are in rare rich company in the modern era.

The list of Men’s Singles Tennis Grand Slam winners winning without dropping a set is very exclusive, in the modern era. Two men have done it three times in the recent past. Here’s a list below of the players who’ve achieved Grand Slams without dropping a set:

5. Illie Nastae, (1, French Open 1970)

For Illie Nastase, the French Open victory was one for the ages as he defeated Yugoslavian Nikola Pulic (6-3,6-0,6-0) in the final to clinch the victory. In the entire run towards his triumph, not only did he not drop a set in the entire tournament, but also only dropped 38 games in total, a tall feat to achieve at the time.

His words post the win was “Since I was a kid and since I started on a clay court in Romania, I’ve dreamt about winning Roland-Garros. In 1971, I missed the trophy. But on this June 3rd, 1979, I finally got my revenge. I hadn’t lost a single set, and I was facing the impressive left-handed, Nikola Pilic in the final”, after the match.

4. Ken Rosewall (Australian Open, 1972)

Ken Rosewall has also a distinguished record of being the oldest ever grand slam winner, which we achieved, achieved courtesy of a straight sets victory win over Mal Anderson, in 1972. Roger Federer came closest to his age (7 months younger) when he won the Wimbledon title in 2017 without any dropped sets. 

3. Roger Federer (3, Australian Open (2007), Wimbledon (2017)

The other great player in the modern era to have won a Grand Slam without dropping a set is the great Roger Federer, who did it twice, in 2007 at the Australian Open and ten years later in 2017. The 41-year-old Swede is the only tennis player to be the only one to have won both junior & senior Wimbledon singles titles without dropping a set. Roger Federer won his lone Wimbledon junior singles title in 1998 while his eighth singles title in 2017 without dropping a set.

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2. Bjorn Borg (3, 1976 Wimbledon & 1978,1980 (French Open))

This feat has been achieved only nine times in Tennis history, particularly in the men’s individual events where the level of competition has always been the highest, particularly since Bjorn Borg’s successes in the 1970s & 80s. He became the icon & star at the time due to his swashbuckling dominance with the tennis racquet, and becoming the second player after Illie Nastae in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam without opening a set.

His 1st such title came in 1976 at Wimbledon. However, he created history in 1978 at Rolland Garros where the record of only losing 32 games (Nadal dropped 37 games in the 2017 edition) still stands on route to winning the Championship. He repeated the feat again in 1980, although he dropped 21 games, this time.

1. Rafael Nadal (4, French Open 2008, 2010, 2017, 2020)

 Rafael Nadal won the first slam without dropping a set in the French Open in 2008, and followed it up in 2010, 2017 & 2020, becoming the undisputed King of Clay court. 

Also, an astonishing statistic was achieved in the Men’s singles category, where the fewest games lost in a Grand Slam event by a man in the modern era (All best-of-5 matches) was Bjorn Borg with 32 in the 1978 French Open. While Nadal outdid this feat in the 2017 French Open with 35 matches unbeaten.

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