FEDEX RELIABILITY ZONE
FedEx Reliability Zone: Clay Colossi
FedEx Reliability Zone: Current Clay-Court Records
by James Buddell|
Three current ATP World Tour stars look at current clay-court records, according to the FedEx ATP Reliability Index.Rafael Nadal was away from the ATP World Tour for eight months. But in the space of six weeks, he left an indelible mark on the 2013 season.
During the Latin American clay swing in February, the Spaniard reached three finals, won two titles and compiled an 12-1 match record.
If that wasn’t enough to worry his rivals, Nadal then backed it up by lifting his 22nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy at the BNP Paribas Open, on the hard courts of Indian Wells.
Next week, Nadal bids to win his ninth straight Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters title.
Gael Monfils and Fernando Verdasco, who are both competing at this week’s US Men's Clay Court Championship in Houston, told ATPWorldTour.com about Nadal’s clay pedigree.
Monfils said, “He is very strong mentally and has tremendous strength from the baseline on clay.” Verdasco admitted, “Of course, Rafa is the man to beat on clay again. He’s been No. 1 on the surface the past seven or eight years. He has started the season well and has proven to other players he will be pretty tough to beat. For sure, he could win all the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 clay tournaments and Roland Garros.”
The 26-year-old Nadal leads the FedEx ATP Reliability Index for the best match wins percentage on clay courts over the past 12 months, with a 35-2 (.946) match record.
“The biggest factors in Nadal’s game are great mental strength and a physique for the surface,” said Verdasco. “He has the perfect game for clay. He uses terrific spin on the ball and recovers so well on the court. Once he gets the initiative in a point, in a match, it is difficult to get it back. He never makes many mistakes.”
Robin Haase told ATPWorldTour.com, "He moves well, his backhand is solid and his serve has improved so much over the years. His forehand does the damage. I know how it feels. You can struggle against the power and spin."
Roger Federer, who has won 10 tour-level titles on clay, is No. 2 with a 15-2 (.882) record over the past 12 months. Juan Martin del Potro is in third place with a 17-3 (.850) mark on clay, which include a successful title defence at the Estoril Open last year. David Ferrer is No. 4 with a 31-6 (.838) mark on clay courts in the same period.
“David Ferrer and Juan Martin del Potro have proven they can win tournaments,” said Monfils. “They are capable of reaching finals at big clay tournaments and have a big chance of upsetting Nadal.”
Verdasco believes, “After Rafa, Djokovic and Federer, Ferrer is the fourth best player on clay. Maybe he could beat Djokovic on clay, but he has never beaten Federer. So perhaps he doesn’t adjust his game well to Federer.
“Juan Martin is a great player too. He has the potential to do really well on clay. If Berdych and Murray bring the confidence they have on hard courts to clay they will do well.”