Rafael Nadal is a master on clay. Even though he is an all-round player, his dominance on clay is something unmatched in the recent years. The only time he failed to win the French title in the last 7 years is when he was beaten in the 4th round in 2009 by Robin Soderling. In recent times though Rafa has faced tough competition from Novak Djokovic on other surfaces but hasn’t been troubled by the Serbian on clay yet.
Nadal’s preparation for this year’s title defense could not have been better as he won his 7th title at Barcelona couple of days back. He is looking stronger than ever and it seems difficult to imagine anyone threatening him for the title this year. The two immediate names which come to mind again are Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Robin Soderling who is the only player to have defeated Rafa at the French open in the last 7 years is suffering an injury and his presence is still uncertain.
Novak Djokovic has been brilliant over the last couple of years and is the current number 1 in the world. French Open is the only title missing from his resume to complete the career grand slam and he would be hoping that he can get that this year. Roger Federer who is at his last legs of his career will probably want to give the French Open another try and would hope to get the better of Nadal if he gets a chance to meet him again this year. Federer played brilliant finals last year against Rafa but could not get over the line.
Not many players have found the formula to beat Rafa at the clay court and it will be the same this year too. It will require lots of hard work and endurance to get past Rafael Nadal once again on clay. Nadal will be looking for his record 7th French Open title (Beating Bjorn Borg’s earlier record of 6 titles) and 11 Grand Slam title over all this year. He has already proven that he has the skills to compete on all surfaces as he already has a career Grand Slam to his name. He is a genuine challenger to Federer’s Grand Slam record and with age on his side no one will bet against him getting there.
This year’s championship will be interesting and it seems like it will again be a competition between the top 3. Will Nadal reign supreme once again on clay? Or will Djokovic and Federer be able to stop him? We will have to wait and see.
Article first published as Can Anyone Stop Rafa on Clay? on Technorati.