Rafael Nadal’s dream of winning four Grand Slam titles in a row ended with a whimper on Wednesday when his body failed him at the quarterfinal stage of the Australian Open for the second consecutive year.
“It’s a difficult day for me,” said Nadal, who was angling to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once. “So I tried my best. I couldn’t do more.”
As shown below, the feat Nadal was attempting is not a common one:
Triviality No. 49 in an occasional series
Most recent athletes to hold all major titles in their respective sport
Rod Laver, 1969
Australia’s Laver won the only calendar-year Grand Slam in the sport — as an amateur in 1962 and as a pro in 1969. Recently, Pete Sampras (1994) Roger Federer (2006 and ’07) and Rafael Nadal (2011) tried and failed to win a fourth straight major.
but none threatened to do so in the same calendar year.
Affirmed was the 11th horse to achieve the Triple Crown. Since that year, 11 horses have won the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but faltered at the Belmont Stakes. Three of those recent near-miss thoroughbreds were runners-up at Belmont.
Tiger Woods, 2001
Woods’ “Tiger Slam” made him the only modern golfer to hold all four major titles at once. Bobby Jones achieved a calendar-year Grand Slam as an amateur in 1930.
Serena Williams, 2003
Williams was the fifth woman to hold all four major singles titles at the same time. Since Steffi Graf completed a calendar-year Slam in 1988, Graf (1996 and ’97) and Martina Hingis (’98) each fell just short of a fourth straight Grand Slam title.