FEDEX RELIABILITY ZONE
FedEx Reliability Zone: Clay Kings
FedEx Reliability Zone: Career Clay-Court Records
by James Buddell|
On the eve of Rafael Nadal's comeback at the VTR Open in Viña del Mar, we look at career clay-court records, according to the FedEx ATP Reliability Index.
Nadal has not competed at an ATP World Tour tournament in South America since 2005 and after a seven-month absence from professional tennis he will return on his favourite surface.
The 26-year-old Spaniard has compiled an outstanding 254-19 record (.930) on clay to lead the FedEx ATP Reliability Index (since 1973).
Six-time Roland Garros champion Bjorn Borg, who is No. 2 overall, with a 245-39 mark (.863) on clay, is looking forward to following Nadal’s comeback. “Tennis has missed Rafa and it will be interesting to see how he performs,” Borg told ATPWorldTour.com. “I am sure he will be ready for the Golden Swing of tournaments.”
Since 2005, Nadal has put together a 227-9 (.962) mark on clay, going unbeaten on the surface in 2006 and 2010. He has won 36 clay-court titles (No. 3 on the all-time list), including eight straight Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters crowns and picked up the Roland Garros trophy in seven of the past eight years.
Thomas Muster, who is third-placed in ATP World Tour history – behind Guillermo Vilas and Manuel Orantes – for most clay-court match wins (422-126 overall record), has no doubts as to why Nadal is the outstanding player on clay courts.
"Nadal has dominated because he has incredible stamina, every shot in the book and because of the way he plays the angles of the court,” Muster told ATPWorldTour.com. “To win on clay, you have to have fantastic endurance, be powerful and flexible, a complete player. I always thought you needed to be physically fit and have every shot. Nadal has that. In my mind, winning on clay was always the greatest test in tennis.”
Borg, who is considered one of the mentally strongest players in tennis history, told ATPWorldTour.com, “You have to realise that to win on clay you will need to stay on court for many hours. So first of all you have to be really fit. When you are physically tired, you soon become mentally tired, and then you start to have trouble concentrating and begin to take risks. In the long run that always means losing matches.”
In ATP World Tour history (since 1973), Nadal, Borg and Ivan Lendl, with a 329-75 record and 29 titles (.814), make up the Top 3 of all-time clay-court match winners. But Vilas, at No. 4 overall, has won more clay-court matches than any other player, with a 632-162 record (.796).
While Nadal is 10 clay-court titles away from breaking Vilas’ Open Era haul of 45 trophies, perhaps the Argentine’s clay-court match wins tally will prove insurmountable. But if any player can break it, it is the ‘King of Clay’.
Welcome back, Rafa!