Rafa Roundup: Nadal on Clay – Jordan on Hardwood, Phelps Under Water, Michelangelo with Marble

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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.

“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.”

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?

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.

“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.


  1. Great news…Rafa landed approx 12:30 today at Adolfo Suarez airport where Manolo Santana waited to greet him and his team.
    Without any time to lose, Rafa headed to the Caja Mágica to train with Carlos.
    [madrid-open.com, May 3, 2018]

    Good luck Rafa. Have a great tournament.


  2. Stefanos Tsitsipas, who lost to Rafa in Barcelona’s final, has been granted a wildcard into the Madrid Masters after wildcard Kokkinakis had to withdraw with a left-knee injury. Madrid will be Tsitsipas’s fourth ATP Masters.

    Tsitsipas jumped from 91 to 44 in the first four months of 2018. Manolo Santana, director of the Madrid Masters had this to say of Stefanos, “I enjoyed watching Tsitsipas at the tournament in Barcelona and was impressed by his potential on clay. He is deserving of a place in our tournament and I am convinced he will entertain the fans in the Caja Mágica.”

    Hoping for a smooth road for Rafa in Madrid as EVERYONE will be looking to beat him.


  3. Margo, you can’t seem to accept that people are entitled to their opinions.

    What gives you the right to lecture others, or tell them their feelings are “silliness”? We can’t all have such lofty thoughts as you, so get off your high horse, and stop telling people how they should think. You are just putting people off from expressing their views, by having a go at people who don’t think the same way as you do.

    • You can’t accept that this is a forum where everyone has a say. And I am entitled to my opinions. No lecture intended. Just as others may disagree with me, I can disagree with others. And I surely don’t take disagreements personally.

      This is a very happy time for Rafa and his team, [some] fans, and me. A time of joy and hoping it continues. If you consider that “lofty”, shame on you.


  4. Waiting for Madrid open. Having withdrawal symptoms not seeing Rafa and clay for so many days.😃😃

  5. Why not focus on Rafa’s ability to come back from injury to win not one, but two undécimas. Rejoice in his new-found form to blast opponents to smitherines. Share in the happiness and joy that Rafa is experiencing.

    Why focus on how Roger got injured, such silliness. Or how the draws are “rigged”. Or how Roger gets preferential treatment.

    A true champion wins no matter what, and Rafa is a true champion. Accept Rafa on his terms, not yours. Getting injured and coming back to keep winning is what Rafa is about. Not giving up in the face of adversity. He accepts his losses so why can’t his fans do the same. A bitter pill to swallow for sure but overcome by his UNBELIEVABLE record.


  6. Rafa jest wujątkowym graczem,takiej determinacji nie ma żaden tenisista.Wydaje mi się,że następne turnieje na mączce wygra.Samo jego nastawienie do gry to już jest sukcesem.Uwielbiam patrzeć na Rafę jak gra,to jest poezja gry.

  7. Absolutely Rafa having had two and a half years out of his years playing is the greatest.

    Roger has had very little time out with injuries, and when he did have time out for a knee injury it was when he was kneeling down to put the plug in the bath for his children’s bath.

    Rafa has been amazingly positive in light of all the injuries he has sustained and needed to work doubly as hard to come back and get back to the top again.

    Rafa deserves full credit where it is due, and he deserves every accolade going to Rafa,

    Love and prayers for next tournament Rafa,


    • Echo that! Good to know that you are also from sydney. Me in wentworthville and always rooting for Rafa!!!

  8. Joann Presley – totally agree with you, have always thought the same. I read that previous to what happened earlier this year, adding together all the times Rafa has been out of the game with injuries, came to 30 months, or two and a half years.

    Who knows how many major titles he would have won, if he had been injury free, in that time?

  9. Rafa in my book is the greatest! He could prove it if the tournament directors that do the scheduling would be fair and quit making it EASIER for Ra Federer to win when Rafa and Federer play in same tournament. Just my opinion!!

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