- Eye on the Tour: German fairytales, clay-court history and snow in April ~ by William Giles | Wimbledon
10 wins in a row. Two sets dropped. Back-to-back titles.
Who ever truly doubted Rafael Nadal?
The Spaniard’s comeback gained further pace in Barcelona, where he won ten straight sets to reclaim his crown from Kei Nishikori, who had won the previous two tournaments in Catalonia.
His latest triumph puts him level with Guillermo Vilas on 49 clay court titles, and it seems increasingly probable that he will make it to 50 before the last ball has been hit in anger at Roland Garros.
- Something Old, Something New ~ by Steve Tignor | tennis.com
Nadal’s 6-4, 7-5 win over Kei Nishikori on Sunday gave him nine titles in Barcelona, which matched the ninth title he just won in Monte Carlo. Those are both records as well, but for Nadal the last two weeks have been less about the numbers he’s putting up, and more about the opponents he’s been putting them up against. If the last two years have been about Rafa losing to people he had never lost to before, and who you could never imagine him losing to before, the clay season so far has been about him turning the tables back around on his competition.
- Recording-making Rafael Nadal back where he belongs on Spanish clay: the champion ~ by Marianne Bevis
So in the space of a week, Nadal has once more catapulted himself into the reckoning not just for the other two clay Masters in the coming fortnight but for that 10th French Open title that slipped from his grasp in the face of Novak Djokovic last year. Now that would be some way to celebrate his 30th birthday.
- Rafael Nadal Tops Winners and Losers at Barcelona, Bucharest and Stuttgart ~ by Jeremy Eckstein | Bleacher Report
It’s the ninth time Nadal has won Barcelona and the eighth time he followed up a Monte Carlo title with Barcelona. Seven of those eight “doubles” (2005-08, 11-12) were the forerunners to the French Open title.
Of his 49 career clay-court titles, 27 have been scored at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Paris. Throw in seven more at Rome and that’s four tournaments producing 34 titles. It’s domination on its own pedestal.
- Will the 2016 French Open Renew the Rafael Nadal-Novak Djokovic Rivalry? ~ by Jeremy Eckstein | Bleacher Report
Imagine the clay king as playing the role of spoiler to King Novak’s destined march to his long-overdue entitlement to the French Open throne.
Suppose Nadal continues to strengthen at Madrid or Rome. What if he has the belief he will be at his very best on clay—a surface where Djokovic must be keeping one eye on the demons he has incarcerated somewhere near the changeover, hoping they will not escape and force him to the other side.
- Steve Flink: A Devoted Fan Meets the Sport’s Elite | Tennis Channel
“I start walking toward the front of the plane, look to my right, and there he is. I go over to him. He is sitting in a row of three on the aisle, with his girlfriend in the middle seat. Nobody is at the window seat. I wanted to play it that there was a bathroom at the front of the plane and then on the way back to my seat I would say, “Oh my God, hello!’ So that is basically what I did. I said, ‘Oh my God, I am a huge fan and I am coming this weekend to Monte Carlo to see you play, I have seen you play at Indian Wells and the U.S. Open.’
”He was very nice and I took a couple of selfies with him and my friend got a picture with him also, and then took a picture of Rafa with me kind of sitting on the floor next to him. I told him that I was studying in Barcelona and that I loved Spain and mentioned I was trying to get to Mallorca, which was actually funny because I did get there a weekend later. He was really nice. I was speaking very quietly and we were kind of whispering, but at this point nobody realized Rafa was on the flight. He said he was happy to hear I was studying in Spain and said he was honored that I was coming to the tournament. His girlfriend was kind of wanting me to leave, but he was great. We spoke for about ten minutes.”
VIDEO: Nadal Reflects On Career Moments | ATP World Tour