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Nadal Leads Birthday Grand Slam Success Stories

Paris, France

Nadal© AFP/Getty ImagesRafael Nadal celebrates his 28th birthday with a cake at Roland Garros on Tuesday.

As eight-time champion Rafael Nadal celebrates his 28th birthday on the eve of his quarter-final match with David Ferrer at Roland Garros, looks at past and present players with the most “appropriate” birthdays on the Grand Slam calendar.

7. Petr Korda (23 January, 1968)
Czech Petr Korda won his lone Grand Slam championship at the 1998 Australian Open, having celebrated his 30th birthday in the first week in Melbourne. The left-hander defeated Marcelo Rios in the final to claim his 12th win in a row, having started the season with victory in Doha (d. Santoro).

6. Stefan Edberg (19 January, 1966)
Stefan Edberg celebrated his 21st birthday in the middle of a title-winning campaign at the 1987 Australian Open, culminating in a five-set victory over Pat Cash in the final. The Swede was also runner-up in Melbourne in 1990 (l. to Lendl), 1992 (l. to Courier) and 1993 (l. to Courier) and finished his career with a 56-10 match record Down Under. Edberg had also been victorious at the Australian Open in 1985, when it was played 25 November – 8 December.

5. Andy Roddick (30 August, 1982)
Home favourite Andy Roddick always celebrated his birthday during the first week of the US Open and, as such, his 21st birthday was made even more memorable as he went on to win his lone Grand Slam championship at Flushing Meadows with victory over Juan Carlos Ferrero. Nine years later, on his 30th birthday, Roddick announced he would take his leave from professional tennis at the US Open, finishing his career with a fourth-round loss to Juan Martin del Potro. The Texan had also reached the US Open final in 2006, losing to Roger Federer.

4. Marat Safin (27 January, 1980)
Marat Safin’s 25th birthday was one to remember. The enigmatic Russian played Roger Federer in the Australian Open semi-finals, saving one match point before emerging victorious 9-7 in the fifth set. The right-hander then went on to beat home favourite Lleyton Hewitt in four sets in the final to win his second Grand Slam championship, adding to the 2000 US Open (d. Sampras). Victory in Melbourne came at the third time of asking for Safin, who had been runner-up in 2002 (l. to Johansson) and 2004 (l. to Federer).

3. Bjorn Borg (6 June, 1956)
Before Nadal came along, Bjorn Borg held the title ‘King Of Clay’, due not least to his six Roland Garros crowns, which always came around the time of the Swede’s birthday. Borg lifted the Coupe des Mousquetaires for the first time in 1974, a week and a half after celebrating his 18th birthday, with victory over Manuel Orantes in the final. His sixth and final triumph came the day after he turned 25, with victory over Ivan Lendl. The right-hander finished his nine-year career with a 49-2 record at Roland Garros.

2. Jimmy Connors (2 September, 1952)
American Jimmy Connors is the only man to have won the US Open title on three different surfaces: grass (1974), clay (1976) at Forest Hills, and hard court (1978, 1982, 1983) at Flushing Meadow. Connors’ celebrated his 22nd birthday in the first week of his maiden triumph in 1974, going on to beat Ken Rosewall in the final. He enjoyed his final success at Flushing Meadows nine years later, shortly after his 31st birthday. Connors finished his career with a staggering 98-17 record at his home Grand Slam, also reaching the finals on clay in 1975 (l. to Orantes) and 1977 (l. to Vilas).

1. Rafael Nadal (3 June, 1986)
A slice of birthday cake mid-tournament has set Rafael Nadal on the path to victory eight times out of nine appearances at Roland Garros. The Mallorcan has lost just one match on the Parisian dirt, against Robin Soderling in the 2009 fourth round, and lifted the trophy in 2005-’08 and 2010-’13. This year, Nadal is looking to become the first player to win five successive Roland Garros titles.

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