Rafael Nadal's 2013 Season Shaping Up to Be Most Impressive of Star's Career

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IMay 22, 2013

ROME, ITALY - MAY 19:  Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after his straight sets victory against Roger Federer of Switzerland in their final match during day eight of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia 2013 at the Foro Italico Tennis Centre  on May 19, 2013 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Rafael Nadal's return to tennis following a seven-month layoff has been met with not only match wins and tournament titles, but domination.

Since returning from a left knee injury last February, Rafa has been simply sensational, reaching eight straight tournament finals and winning six. That includes three ATP Masters 1000 series tournaments in Indian Wells, Madrid and Rome.

Nadal will make his first Grand Slam appearance of the season in just days at a venue he has owned over the past decade: The French Open at Roland Garros.

Nadal has won seven of the past eight French Opens since 2005 and boasts an incredible 52-1 record on the red stuff in Paris.

A fourth consecutive championship in Paris this summer would have Nadal off to an unbelievably hot start and in the midst of the most impressive season of his career considering what the 11-time Grand Slam champion has had to overcome over the past year in terms of his health.

If Nadal can close out a brilliant clay-court season with seven more wins in Roland Garros and another shiny trophy, how could you argue with a 43-2 start to the year that includes seven championships—one being a Grand Slam?

While nothing can trump Rafa's 2010 season in terms of Grand Slam success (three major wins, 25-1 match record in those majors), this 2013 campaign can certainly top it in terms of overall dominance.

Nadal only won seven tournament titles in 2010, finishing the year with a 67-9 singles match record. Rafa also only reached three ATP Masters 1000 series finals three years ago, winning all three. 

In 2008, Nadal won 82 of 93 singles matches en route to winning eight titles, including two Grand Slams. But remember, Rafa only won three Masters 1000 series tournaments that year. 

With the Toronto, Cincinnati, Shanghai and Paris Masters still left to play this year, Nadal could potentially win four Masters 1000 tournaments for the first time since 2005 and five for the first time in his career.

Although Nadal is sure to fall back down to earth once he returns to the grass and hard courts, he proved at Indian Wells last March that he can still go the distance on the more demanding, faster-playing surfaces.

Rafa won all five of his matches at Indian Wells, advancing past the third round via a walkover but dropping just two sets on his way to winning the title. Therefore, there's no reason to doubt that Nadal can continue to play superb tennis and win matches and titles once the schedule shifts from clay to grass to hard courts.

While Rafael Nadal's 2013 season cannot be accurately assessed until it's over, there's simply no denying that at the moment it's shaping up to be the most impressive of his career given just how dominant he's been and what he's had to overcome.


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