Memory Lane: Revisiting Rafael Nadal's nine French Open titles

As Rafael Nadal gets set to begin his quest for an unprecedented 10th French Open title, we look back at his past triumphs at Roland Garros. Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

In less than a week, Rafael Nadal will be going for his 10th French Open title, in hopes of becoming the first men's player to ever capture double-digit wins at any event, not just the majors.

No one has epitomized clay-court greatness more than Nadal, from his baseline-bashing groundstrokes to his irrepressible grind-it-out mindset.

Nadal's journey began in 2005 as a 19-year-old whippersnapper who took down countryman David Ferrer in the quarterfinals and then the world's top player at the time, Roger Federer, en route to the final. From there, "The King of Clay" was born.

Here's a look back at his nine previous titles in Paris:


Final result: Defeated Mariano Puerta 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5

What it meant: Despite being regarded as the game's next big thing, Nadal had been pigeonholed as a dirt stalwart. But from the moment he took out Lars Burgsmuller in the opening round to his hard-fought, four-set win in the final against Puerta, Nadal soon became known as El Matador, blasting everyone off the court with his powerful forehand and relentless energy.


Final result: Defeated Roger Federer 1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6 (4)

What it meant: It was his third match against Federer but the first in a Grand Slam. There was, of course, a lot of hype heading into this final. Just two weeks before, Nadal had overcome match point against Federer in the fifth set of their Rome championship bout. Outside their Wimbledon final two years later, that was the most competitive match they've played to date. The Paris final wasn't a letdown per se, with Nadal winning in four sets, but it didn't come close to matching the thriller at the Italian Open.


Final result: Defeated Roger Federer 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4

What it meant: Nadal three-peated (for the first time) on his beloved Parisian clay. Again, Federer, who was looking to win his fourth straight major, was the victim, and again, it ended in four sets. But it was the postmatch on-court speech from Nadal that stole the show. While reveling in his latest title, he showed genuine sympathy for Federer. "I am really sad for Roger. He is a friend, and I know he is a great champion, whether he wins or loses," Nadal said.


Final result: Defeated Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3, 6-0

What it meant: Absolute dominance. If Federer was moderately competitive in their two previous French Open finals, this was one-way traffic -- suffocating, in fact. With Bjorn Borg on hand, Nadal dropped only four games in three sets. As the match wore on, the crowd became frustrated with the lopsided nature, occasionally booing. Federer had little explanation afterward, simply saying Nadal was too good.


Final result: Defeated Robin Soderling 6-4, 6-2, 6-4

What it meant: A year after a stunning defeat to Soderling in the fourth round -- Nadal's first loss at the French -- Nadal got his retribution. The Spaniard crushed Soderling in three sets, giving him not only his fifth French Open title, but the No. 1 world ranking for the first time. Afterward, Nadal was overcome with emotion and sobbed uncontrollably in his changeover chair.


Final result: Defeated Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7, 6-1

What it meant: Two days after his 25th birthday, Nadal took out Federer yet again. Although the four-set win was far more competitive than their match two years prior, Nadal's modus operandi was all too familiar. The Spaniard ripped crosscourt forehands to Federer's weaker backhand throughout the match. The Swiss blew a 5-2 opening-set lead, which could have made a difference in the outcome had he held on.


Final result: Defeated Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5

What it meant: In a rain-soaked final, which was postponed in the fourth set and pushed to Monday, Nadal was too tough down the stretch. But this match was more about Djokovic's frustration (he berated himself often and, at one point, demolished his racket on the sideline bench) and failure to win key points. The two-day battle ended when Djokovic double-faulted on match point.


Final result: Defeated David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-3

What it meant: The reality was that Nadal's semifinal match against Djokovic was the headliner of this event. For the second straight year, Nadal beat Djokovic, but this time it took an epic 4 hours and 37 minutes of topsy-turvy tennis. The final score: 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-7, 9-7. In the less-dramatic final, Nadal took out countryman Ferrer, becoming the first player to win eight major titles in a single event.


Final result: Defeated Novak Djokovic 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4

What it meant: Heading into the final, Nadal had lost four straight matches against Djokovic. And after the opening set of the French Open final, it sure looked like it might be five. But Nadal fought back, winning his 14th (and to date, his last) Grand Slam trophy, tying Pete Sampras for second all time.