Is Rafael Nadal the King Of Clay? No, the King Of Tennis

Jesse MotiffSenior Analyst IFebruary 2, 2009

Many people viewed Rafael Nadal's victory over Roger Federer at the 2008 Wimbledon as a changing of the guard. However, Nadal had previously come close to dethroning Federer on the grass.

Nadal's five set victory over Federer at the Australian Open on Sunday, Nadal's first hard court final in a major, has truly vaulted Nadal into the dominant position in men's tennis.

Nadal showed tremendous fitness by outlasting Federer after finishing a five hour match less than 48 hours earlier.

Nadal and Federer put on another classic for the ages. The two split the first four sets: 7-5, 3-6, 7-6, 3-6, before Nadal took the fifth set, 6-2.

Although Rafa was the winner, Federer did more to lose in the fifth set than Nadal did to win. Time after time Federer dumped a backhand into the net or stumbled via a costly double fault.

Nadal, to his credit, was able to keep the ball in play long enough to allow Federer to make mistakes, but he also stepped up in critical moments to win his sixth grand slam trophy.

Although this match didn't have as much drama as their match at Wimbledon, there were as many highlight shots between the two as any other match they have played against eachother.

Rafael is clearly the dominant player in their rivalry.

He gave Federer one of his worst losses ever last year at the French Open. He followed that up with the classic at Wimbledon to pass Roger on grass.  Now Nadal has surpassed Federer on hard courts as well.

Nadal has six major titles and could have his seventh before he turns 23 in June. Barring any sort of injury, Nadal should win the French Open for the foreseeable future.

There's no reason why he can't win one or two more Wimbledons due to his adjusted game. Another title at the Aussie Open is attainable due to his superior fitness and shot-making skills.

Nadal's last mountain to climb will be the US Open. He has proven he can win a major on hard courts, so there isn't any reason why he shouldn't win in New York.

Rafa is already one of the best clay court players ever. He is now stepping into the class of all-time greats for any surface. A Career Grand Slam will place him in the true elite class.  In a few years we may be talking about Nadal not only being the all-time leader in majors won, but the best player in the history of the game.