Nadal will either break a pattern of history or take a breather from Grand Slam success
In the modern game four players have won over ten GS titles: Borg, Sampras, Federer and Nadal. All four of them have had an extended period in which they won at least one title every year.
Borg’s first slam was Roland Garros 1974 and his last Roland Garros 1981.
Sampras’ extended period of unbroken success went from Wimbledon 1993 to Wimbledon 2000 (Sampras also won the US Open in 1990 and 2002, in addition to the 1993-2000 streak)
Federer’s run started at Wimbledon 2003 and went up to the Australian Open in 2010 (Federer’s latest title, at Wimbledon, has come after a 30 month-long break)
In these three cases the length of the unbroken streak is very similar: Sampras and Borg’s were both exactly seven years; Federer’s was six and half years.
Nadal’s streak is currently on-going. However by winning RG 2012, he has reached the point at which Sampras and Borg’s streaks ended: his first title was RG 2005, seven years ago.
If Nadal wins one of the next five slams (USO 2012, AO 2013, RG 2013, Wimbledon 2013, USO 2013) he will continue his streak further than Borg, Sampras or Federer managed.
Here are the four streaks:
Typically seven years is the limit for the slam title-winning part of a career – none of McEnroe, Wilanders, Lendl or Edberg went further between first and last slams. Agassi and Connors did, but both had a sizeable break between two periods of success. Becker, like Sampras and Federer, managed one very late title: the 1996 Australian Open.