We need to decide soon what we would call an astonishing feat, which would be a first for tennis.
I’m not talking about Novak Djokovic, who if he wins the French Open will have achieved the ‘Nole Slam’ or ‘Novak Slam’ by holding all four majors simultaneously (thank, or blame, Serena Williams for these cutesy names – she had her self-styled Serena Slam when she won four titles spread over two seasons in 2002-3). And we already know what we could label it if Djokovic were to win all four majors this year; that would be the grand slam or calendar-year grand slam. If he also triumphs at the Olympics, something never achieved before in men’s tennis, he will be said to have completed the Golden Slam.
No, where there is no agreement yet is what we could call it if Rafael Nadal, the beaten finalist at the last three majors, were to go around the grand slam block by also finishing as the runner-up at the French Open. Nadal is already the first man in the Open era to lose three slam finals in a row. One more runner-up’s speech, at Roland Garros, and he would have achieved a first for tennis, simultaneously holding second prize at all the four majors. A grand slam of victories? That’s been done before, Rod Laver winning everything in 1962 as an amateur and then again as a professional in 1969. Nadal came very close to his own Rafa Slam as when he arrived in Melbourne for last year’s Australian Open he already had the other three majors in his racket bag, but he injured himself and lost in the quarter-finals to David Ferrer. But had Nadal won that tournament, he would only have emulated Laver. In Paris this spring, Nadal could be about to break new ground.
Such a scenario, Rafa making another speech congratulating Novak, is a very real possibility. Nadal would naturally be expected to make the final in Paris, as the seedings would keep him apart from Djokovic until the title-match. And Djokovic, though he is yet to win the Coupe des Mousquetaires, or even play in a French Open final, is more than capable of beating Nadal on clay. He did so in last year’s Madrid and Rome finals.
What do we call the opposite of the Rafa Slam? I think we need some help, and inspiration, here, so please send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org