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What Does French Open Title Do for Nadal's Legacy?

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 11:  Rafael Nadal of Spain poses with the Coupe des Mousquetaires trophy in front of the Eiffel Tower after his victory against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during day 16 of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 11, 2012 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Tommy KeelerCorrespondent IIIJune 11, 2012

I don't think it's a surprise that Rafael Nadal is the undisputed King of Clay. It's not shocking that he won a seventh French Open title. Now that he's done it, it's a good time to look at his legacy and what being the greatest clay-courter of all time means for him.

Nadal now has 11 Slams, tying him with the likes of Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver. Only three guys have now won more Slams, and Rafa is still young. Does this currently put him in the top four of all time? I'm not sure. There are many who would question whether Roy Emerson would be considered the third best simply because he has the third most Slams.

I still think Rod Laver is one of the greatest of all time, no matter how many people pass him.

There's no question that Nadal can surpass Roger Federer's 16 Slams, but I'm not sure you can say he's the greatest of all time if he gets there. I think a lot will depend on how many more Slams Nadal wins outside of the French Open.

One knock on Nadal will always be that he has most of his Slams on clay, where he's clearly the best. I think he needs to win a few more on other surfaces. Of course, you could always look at Pete Sampras and how he dominated on grass. That being said, Sampras also won a lot at the U.S. Open on hard courts.

It's always tough in a sport to say one person was the greatest of all time because there are so many different players, and there's no way to see Laver in his prime against Nadal or Federer in their prime.

Many consider Federer to be the greatest of all time, and I think for Rafa to join him he will need to show that he can win a little more on the other surfaces.

However, I think there's one debate that can be put to rest—Nadal is clearly the greatest clay-courter of all time. He showed why again in Paris this year, and I think he will continue to dominate on that surface for years to come.

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