King of Clay makes steady start aiming 10th win at Paris




Rafael Nadal, due to his mind boggling records on the clay courts, till last year, has been considered one of the greatest clay court players of all time, earning him the nickname of ‘King of Clay’. This season however has not been his best as he struggles to win a major title. Nadal has made a steady start at the Roland Garros, considered to be his home turf, by winning his first round comfortably.

Rafael Nadal: King of Clay makes steady start aiming 10th win at Paris

Rafael Nadal: King of Clay makes steady start aiming 10th win at Paris

Nadal has begun his quest for the tenth title with a straight sets victory over an 18-year old wild card entry, 6-3,6-3,6-4. He has slipped world rankings and is currently seeded sixth in the tournament. There were few tense moments when the Spaniard made unforced errors and looked out of rhythm in the first set. However, Nadal regained his composure to see through the match.

His performance at the French Open is stunning especially when you consider the numbers and statistics. Sweden’s Robin Soderling is the only man ever to have beaten Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros, since Nadal’s debut in 2005. That means over the ten years that he has played at Roland Garros, he has won 9 times winning 66 out of the 67 games he has ever played on this clay court.

Nadal really loves playing on the clay surface. “Roland Garros is the most special one- because its clay”, said Nadal. Now, if he manages to win this year too, he will become the first tennis player in the history of the game to win th same Glam Slam title ten times. That is something which will truly make him a living legend in tennis, if he already is not.

We might see Rafael Nadal as a brilliant tennis player, but back home in Spain he is more than just that. He acts as a source of inspiration not only for the people of Spain but also for other Spanish sportsmen. Fernando Alonso, the Spanish Formula One driver for McLaren-Honda has requested a TV screen featuring the French Open to be aired on his pit garage for the next week’s race at Canada.

“He is an example for all the Spanish people and for all the kids in Spain”, said Alonso, “He’s never giving up, he’s always believing in his power- its very inspirational. In Spain, he is the biggest sportsman probably in history”.

While playing him, a while back, Robin Doderling had commented, “Playing Rafa you have to be prepared to run like a rabbit for five hours”. This just shows the kind of dedication and energy the Spaniard packs when he is playing on court.

Nadal seems to have improved his back hand and volleys but his big forehands have seemed to trouble him now-a-days which was his biggest weapon. Also, long rallies that earlier used to favour Nadal, winning them, has now eroded away with Nadal making more unforced errors. Nadal might have lost more matches this season on clay than his entire ten years of career, but that does not dilute the fact that he still can win the French Open for a historic tenth time.

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Anjan K Merkap

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