Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were the kings of men’s tennis through the 2000s. Then, in 2008, Djokovic came along and brought a new dimension to the game. He soared to the top of the sport and became the World No.1 after a stream of Major wins. In 2021, he had the opportunity to break multiple records. First, he went past Roger Federer’s 310 weeks as World No.1. This was the longest run of the Open Era.
Then, he had the chance to achieve a calendar-year Grand Slam. Rob Slater was the last man to achieve this difficult feat in 1969. After winning Wimbledon, Roland Garros, and the Australian Open, he faced Danii Medvedev in the final. However, Medvedev shocked the world and defeated the Serbian. But it sealed Djokovic’s World No.1 spot for a record seventh time. This took him above Pete Sampras in the all-time rankings (via EuroSport).
Many Formula 1 supporters witnessed history in Portugal in 2020. Lewis Hamilton won his 92nd race as he overtook Michael Schumacher in the leader books (via ABC News). Schumacher won the last of his races in 2006. However, most experts thought that nobody would win more. Unfortunately for the German, Hamilton makes it his business to break records. It was another notch on his belt on the way to a seventh championship.
Hamilton equaled or broke many of Schumacher’s other records. The pair have the same number of Driver’s Championship titles. But Hamilton has more podium finishes than his older rival. Meanwhile, Schumacher maintains the fastest laps in Formula 1 history with 77. It’s difficult to say one was better than the other because they faced different challenges in their careers.
Oliveira’s story is great because it’s so unlikely. The Brazilian MMA fighter joined the UFC as a young man. However, he struggled for consistency. He had a mediocre 10-8 record in his first 18 fights with the promotion. Oliveira showed flashes of brilliance but struggled mentally. In some fights, it appeared as though he gave up. Also, he missed weight on four occasions.
Then out of the blue, something clicked. He went on an incredible nine-fight rampage and won the lightweight championship. The BJJ expert broke many records on the way to the belt. First, he achieved the most submissions in UFC history. Then, against Michael Chandler, he went even further (via Sportskeeda). He knocked out the American and claimed the record for the most finishes in the octagon.
Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the most dedicated athletes in the world of sports. He’s a goal-scoring machine and an inspiration to millions of people around the world. Furthermore, he is incredibly focused on his performance. Even as he ages, he continues to focus on maximum recovery. In 2021, he broke the record for the most international goals in history when he scored twice against Ireland (via The Athletic).
This took the 36-year-old’s career total to 115. It was an incredible achievement because only one other player achieved more than 100 goals for their country. Ali Daei scored 109 for Iran but many of his goals came against limited opposition. However, Ronaldo’s Portugal consistently played the best teams in Europe and the world. This made it even more impressive because of the quality he faced.
Retirement isn’t easy for former NFL quarterbacks as Tom Brady keeps stealing all of the records. It can’t be easy for the likes of Peyton Manning to watch the former Patriot go down as the greatest in history. However, one record Manning still holds is the most 4000-yard season in NFL history. He went past Dan Marino in 2006 with his seventh successive 4000-yard year (via WTHR).
But Manning didn’t slow down. He continued to be a passing machine as he retired with an outstanding record of 14 4000-yard seasons. That’s one more than Brady, but nobody would bet against the Bucs QB overtaking him. Furthermore, since 2006, 10 quarterbacks matched or overtook Marino’s former record. This shows how the NFL has evolved in recent decades.
The Stars and Stripes played so often around Phelps that it could have been his ringtone. He was unstoppable in the pool as he broke countless Olympic records. Firstly, he became the most successful male Olympian in history. Fellow swimmer Mark Spitz held the record for 36 years with seven golds. But Phelps soared past this as he won his eighth in Beijing (via The Guardian).
Finally, he became the highest-achieving Olympian ever, overtaking Larisa Latynina. The Soviet gymnast won the last of 18 medals in the 1964 Tokyo Games. Phelps competed in London and Rio De Janeiro to put his medal count at 28. Meanwhile, Phelps is a world record-holder in many styles. He also won many awards throughout his career in recognition of his achievements.
In 2020, Alvarez topped the Forbes List of Highest-Earning athletes. The Mexican boxer became a superstar because of his dynamic and aggressive style. He set multiple records on the road to greatness. Several of these occurred in 2021 as he won multiple titles. First, he defeated Billy Joe Saunders in front of the biggest crowd boxing has ever seen (via CNN). He went even further in his next bout.
Canelo fought Caleb Plant for the undisputed super-middleweight championship. This was a glorious moment for the Mexican because it was a chance to seal his legacy. Plant made life awkward for Alvarez but finally suffered a TKO in the 11th round. It was an incredible moment for Alvarez because he became the first fighter to unify the division.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints (2021)
Drew Brees held almost all of the NFL passing records before he retired in 2021. In 2017, the Saints star became the quickest player in history to reach the 70,000-yard mark. When he hung up his cleats, he had the most completed passes ever. However, he sat back and watched Tom Brady gobble up his accolades. The Bucs’ QB broke Brees’ record and became the first 80,000-yard passer ever in 2021.
But the records keep coming. Brady also has the most touchdown passes as well as the most attempts. Furthermore, the Pats’ icon has the most Super Bowl rings ever. His total of seven wins is more than any individual franchise. That’s because the Steelers and the Patriots both have six Super Bowls to their names (via CBS Sports). Brady is a relentless winning machine who refuses to drop his standards.
1. Golden State Warriors vs. New York Knicks (2021)
Ray Allen maintained some incredible three-point records in the NBA. Before he retired, Allen hit 2,973 three-pointers in 1300 games. But he didn’t count on the rise of Steph Curry. The Warriors’ icon is the most prolific long-range shooter in NBA history. Curry broke Allen’s longstanding record against the Knicks, finishing with 2,977.
Even more remarkable is how he achieved this feat. Curry only took 789 games to become the all-time leader (via The New York Times). This is ludicrous and at 33, he shows no sign of slowing down. It seems unlikely that anybody will come along to overtake him. However, everybody said the same thing about Allen. In the end, records are made to be broken. Athletes improve over time and records are made to be broken, but this will take something special.