Rafael Nadal Will Surpass Grand Slam Expectations in 2013

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Rafael Nadal Will Surpass Grand Slam Expectations in 2013
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Only three players in men's tennis history have more Grand Slam titles than Rafael Nadal. And no player has ever won as many French Open championships as the 26-year-old Spaniard.

Like Roger Federer, Rafa is a legend in today's game. Most have to wait until they walk away from a sport to achieve such a status, but not Nadal, and that's why he will surpass Grand Slam expectations this coming season in 2013.

Nadal is one of only three active players in men's tennis with at least three Grand Slam titles to his name, the other two being Federer and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic

It's not a matter of Nadal being ready for the competition, but the competition being ready for Nadal. Rafa's style has proved both entertaining and superior over the last eight years, and he's done nothing but beat the best.

Nadal is 50-29 all-time against the other three of tennis' Big Four (Federer, Djokovic and Andy Murray). Rafa has a winning record against each, which assures him a place in tennis lore.

As far as achievements are concerned, Rafa has won at every major over the course of his decorated career and even won Olympic gold in 2008 in Beijing. The only thing Nadal has left to accomplish in the sport is to recover from his left injury and cap off his comeback with a 12th career Grand Slam title.

There's no reason to believe he won't.

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Nadal has 11 Grand Slam titles to his name. Only Roger Federer (17), Pete Sampras (14) and Roy Emerson (12) have won more.

Rafa has won a major tournament in every year since 2005 and will have the clay courts at Roland Garros at his disposal if he proves to be too rusty at the Australian Open this coming January. Nadal has won seven times at the French Open in eight tries, boasting a remarkable 52-1 singles match record there.

Nadal has also won at Wimbledon twice, the site of his last competitive tennis match before beginning his recovery.

Even if Rafa starts 0-3 in majors next year, he'll have a final shot at the U.S. Open, where he won in 2010 and was a finalist in 2011. Sure, Nadal is known as the king of clay, but he's come a long way on hard courts, evidenced by his 82 percent victory rate at the Australian and U.S. Open during his career.

In men's tennis there are four elite players, and then everyone else. Nadal is one of those four, and despite the rust he will have to shake off in his first few matches back, 2013 promises to be a fantastic year for the tennis legend.

The sport has only witnessed three players in history who have been more successful at Grand Slams than Rafael Nadal. And by the time 2013 comes to a close, that number will be even lower.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.

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