At 35 next June, Rafael Nadal has only played two tournaments in 2021: the Australian Open in Melbourne, where he lost in the quarter-finals to Stefanos Tsitsipas after a two-set lead to zero; and the Barcelona Open which he won after beating the same Tsitsipas in a very balanced game.
Currently the number 3 in the ATP world ranking, has a truly unbeatable track record: he is the player who has conquered the most events on clay, up to 60 titles. Among the players still active, in second place, but at a simply enormous distance from the Spanish phenomenon, there is the Serbian world number 1, Novak Djokovic, who stopped at 15 wins.
In third place there are Roger Federer and Tommy Robredo who had 11 wins. Rafa has an incredible number, which in this ranking also dominates other former champions who are no longer active in professional tennis, namely: Guillermo Vilas (49), Thomas Muster (40), Bjorn Borg and Manuel Orantes (30), Ivan Lendl (28), Ilie Nastase (27), José Luis Clerc (21), Mats Wilander (20), Andrés Gómez and Carlos Moya (16).
Considering that Nadal has won a total of 86 titles during his career, it can be said that around 70% of them have been won on clay. As for the Russian Daniil Medvedev, he stands out for the fact that he has yet to win a match in Paris.
World No. 3 Rafael Nadal hadn’t had a great start to this 2021 clay-court season, until he won Barcelona’s ATP 500 last week. The “King of Clay” lost to Andrey Rublev in the quarterfinals of the Monte Carlo Masters 2021 and didn’t look in great shape.
Afterwards, he had a rough start at Barcelona and also survived two close matches before knocking down a very tough Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final, to lift his 12th title in Barcelona.
Even though Rafael Nadal didn’t have an ideal start in 2021, Patrick McEnroe already believed he could always turn things around. In a recent interview, the former tennis player mentioned that the longer Rafa plays on clay, the more dangerous he becomes on the surface.
Patrick McEnroe commented on Rafael Nadal
“The more you go on clay, the better Rafael Nadal gets back in the saddle and the more devastating he is,” said Patrick McEnroe in the interview.
The former American player even claimed that no one could match the level of punishment Nadal knows how to inflict on his opponents when they play on clay. He also said that Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer could also punish their counterparts.
However, he said they couldn’t match Rafa’s level on clay either. “The two others [Federer et Djokovic] will beat you. But not in the same way that Rafa punishes you physically on clay, “added the doubles champion at Roland Garros.