Is Rafael Nadal the man to beat again on clay this year?

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Rafael Nadal was away from the ATP World Tour for eight months. But in the space of six weeks, he left an indelible mark on the 2013 season. During the Latin American clay swing in February, Rafa reached three finals, won two titles and compiled an 12-1 match record. If that wasn’t enough to worry his rivals, Nadal then backed it up by lifting his 22nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy at the BNP Paribas Open, on the hard courts of Indian Wells. Next week, Nadal bids to win his ninth straight Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters title.

Gael Monfils: “He is very strong mentally and has tremendous strength from the baseline on clay.”

Fernando Verdasco:  “Rafa is the man to beat on clay again. He’s been No. 1 on the surface the past seven or eight years. He has started the season well and has proven to other players he will be pretty tough to beat. For sure, he could win all the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay tournaments and Roland Garros. The biggest factors in Nadal’s game are great mental strength and a physique for the surface. He has the perfect game for clay. He uses terrific spin on the ball and recovers so well on the court. Once he gets the initiative in a point, in a match, it is difficult to get it back. He never makes many mistakes.”

Robin Haase: “He moves well, his backhand is solid and his serve has improved so much over the years. His forehand does the damage. I know how it feels. You can struggle against the power and spin.”


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