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Yes, let’s start with Nadal on Clay, which has become a phrase akin to “Jordan on Hardwood” or “Phelps Under Water” or “Michelangelo with Marble.” He is truly remarkable. If we run the analytics, as Martin suggests, it’s hard to resist giggling at the sheer absurdity of the results. Coming off of his 11th— not a typo—Monte Carlo Masters 1000 title, Nadal is 396-35 for his career on clay, a win rate of 92%. He, of course, is aiming for 11thFrench Open title, a major he has won more times than any other player has won any other Slam.
- Peter Fleming says Rafael Nadal is a tennis ‘phenomenon’ following his Barcelona Open triumph | Sky Sports
“The only reason he might have retired or felt bad about his life is if he was not physically fit and he was hurting,” said Fleming. “Pain is no fun and now that he is out of pain, he’s enjoying himself and winning is fun.
“It’s inhuman to be that dominant, in not just this event, but also Roland Garros, where everybody plays every year. He is equally as dominant. He’s a phenomenon.”
- Rafael Nadal: “If there’s one place in the world where I feel that the fans help me win, it is Madrid” | Madrid Open
Do you understand Federer’s decision not to play the clay swing?
Yes, of course I understand it. He must think that the cost is greater on clay, that he has amazing winning momentum and that on clay he could lose more matches and lose that invincible aura that he has on other surfaces. I think those two factors together have led to him taking that decision. It’s respectable, and as long as it works for him… In 2017 it was perfect, why would he change it?
- Tribute: Rafa Hits 400 Clay-Court Match Wins | ATP World Tour
Bjorn Borg: “Nadal has worked so hard to develop his backhand, particularly the crosscourt shot, which is not only a winner shot, but also an attacking stroke in defence. He plays with tremendous intensity, as if every point is a match point. Nadal has excellent footwork, so he’s able to position himself in good time and rarely gets into trouble. He is quick to move up the court. His serve often sets up the point, while the pace and placement of his forehand enables him to finish points.”
In an era of all-court players, Nadal has developed his legacy as a red dirt warrior to become an icon of the sport with an 888-186 (.823) record and 76 trophies – including 16 Grand Slam championships and 31 ATP World Tour Masters 1000s.
- Marc Lopez: Federer, Nadal would rule doubles | Fox Sports Asia
“If you ask me what would happen if Rafa and Roger played doubles every week and trained together, they would obviously be the best in the world, because they are unique,” Lopez said.
“In the end, it is better for us that good singles players decide not to play it.”
The chances of seeing Nadal and Federer team up again is a distinct possibility in September when the second edition of the Laver Cup takes place.
With a whopping $7 million in prize money on offer this clay-court season from five of the biggest events, including $2.2 million for a successful defense of his tenth French Open title in June and a combined $2.6 million for next week’s Madrid Masters and the Italian Open the week after, the top-ranked Nadal is likely to have overtaken the second-ranked Federer as the 2018 top earner in the men’s game by the time the clay season draws to a close.