Contrary to popular opinion, Rafael Nadal, the current World No. 7, has enjoyed a stellar start to 2017. He may have been brought to his knees by Roger Federer for a change, but it doesn’t change the fact that well into his 31st year of existence, he has made it to three finals – two of them on fast hard courts, both of which he lost to his great rival.
Federer, too, had last won a Grand Slam before this year’s Australian Open when he was almost 31, at Wimbledon in 2012 – which means that Nadal could well be playing the European claycourt season this year close to his peak for the final time in his storied career. It’s now or never for the Spanish Bull, who is not only one of the greatest male tennis player of all time, but easily the greatest claycourt player of all time.
The numbers are astounding. Yesterday, he started his pursuit to win his 10th – yes, that is right, 10th – Monte Carlo Masters title. He beat Britain’s Kyle Edmund in a three-set match, and will build momentum in a tournament where Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are returning after an injury layoff. His only competition is himself – and how bad he wants that first title of the year. He is the favorite for Monte Carlo, as well as this year’s French Open – which he hasn’t won since 2014. That was his last Grand Slam victory.
Here are some mind-boggling numbers about Nadal’s claycourt journey:
9 – number of times he has won Monte Carlo, Barcelona (ATP500) as well as the French Open. He has won Rome seven times. He is also the only player to win eight consecutive titles at a single event (Monte Carlo). Nadal is also the only male tennis player to win a single Grand Slam nine times.
34 – number of titles at these four clay venues alone, accounting for almost half of his career titles (69).
46 – a record for the number of consecutive matches won at a single tournament. Again, Monte Carlo for Nadal.
400 – number of claycourt matches Nadal has played so far. He has played a total of 1004 matches in his career.
366 – number of claycourt matches Nadal has won.
49 – number of claycourt titles Nadal has won in his career, an Open Era record.
97. 3 – Nadal’s win percentage at Roland Garros (French Open), where he has lost only two matches in his career – once to Robin Soderling in the fourth round of 2009, and once to Novak Djokovic in the 2015 quarterfinals. He retired after the third round last year.
81 – his winning streak on clay between 2005 and 2007, before losing to Federer in the Hamburg final. This is the Open Era record for the longest winning streak of any surface ever.
1 – the only current top-10 player and former World No. 1 Nadal has a losing record against. Novak Djokovic leads the head-to-head 26-23. They’ve played 21 matches on clay, and Nadal has won 14 of them. Nadal leads 24-13 against Federer and 17-7 against Murray.