Kings battle and conquer, gods on the other hand, just have to show up.
Rafael Nadal has long been touted as the King of Clay. He earned his coronation in his early 20s by beating the then presumably best on the surface, Guillermo Coria and consistently beating the best in the business, Roger Federer on red clay all over the world. He won Master titles on the trot, multiple French Open championships and kept cementing his position in tennis lore as the best of his era on clay, probably the best ever to grace the red courts. What has followed is years of utter domination, and thwarting anyone who has come close to challenging that notion.
With his 10th title at the Monte Carlo Masters 1000 tournament, Nadal has once again rewritten the history books by becoming the first man in the Open Era to win the same tournament 10 times. What is worth noting is the fact that Nadal also remains the only male player to win a tournament nine times (French Open and Barcelona). Roland Garros, Monte Carlo and Barcelona all happen to be clay court tournaments. The title win in Monte Carlo was Nadal’s 50th title win on clay and the Spaniard is now the clear leader on the list of most titles won on the surface (surpassing Guillermo Vilas’ 49).
Here is why Nadal deserves to be called the God of Clay now:
Nadal has the best win/loss record on the surface (minimum 25 matches played). His 374 wins accumulated against a meagre 34 losses give him a 91.6 percent record over his career so far. The second most successful French Open Champion of all-time, Bjorn Borg had an 86 percent record in comparison.
Nadal once rode an 81-match winning streak on the surface between 2005 and 2007. It is the longest winning streak by a male player on a particular surface in the Open Era. The second longest such streak amounted to 46-wins in contrast, and is owned by Vilas.
Nadal now has 50 clay court titles in his trophy collection. With the win in Monte Carlo, he broke a year-long tie with Vilas and became the outright leader in this category. What’s worth mentioning is the fact that Nadal has lost only 34 matches to reach this feat, while Vilas lost 157 matches on clay en route his 49 titles.
Between 2005 and 2013, Nadal won 46 consecutive matches at the Monte Carlo Masters, which is a record for most consecutive wins at one tournament by any player in the Open Era. The streak started in the first round of the 2005 edition with a victory over Gael Monfils, and ended in the final of the 2013 edition with a straight-sets loss to Novak Djokovic.
Nadal is now the first player on the men’s circuit to complete the 'decima' at a single event in the Open Era. Nadal is also second on the list of most titles won at the same event, with nine wins each at Roland Garros and Barcelona.
Nadal also holds the record for most titles at the same Grand Slam event with nine title wins at the French Open. No other man has won more than seven and one would only imagine Nadal will have a few more shots left at completing the 'decima' on the red clay of Paris.
Nadal has lost only eight title matches on clay out of the 58 Finals he has played on the surface, giving him a winning rate of 86 percent in clay-court finals. This is the highest win rate by any player (minimum six finals) on the surface.
Nadal has won the French Open twice without dropping a single set, a feat he managed in 2008 and 2010. He is tied with Bjorn Borg in this category of achievements at a single Grand Slam event in the Open Era.
Nadal is the only player in the history of the sport to have won the three Masters 1000 tournaments on clay (Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid) and the French Open, all in the same year. Nadal accomplished this feat of the Clay Slam in the 2010 campaign.
Whatever you call him God or King, Nadal is, at this point, going in the history books as the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) on the red dirt around the world. The best part is that he in the pursuit of challenging the limits of his own greatness. Let’s see what the rest of the season has to offer.
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Updated Date: Apr 26, 2017 10:48:57 IST