There are not many who would dispute the fact that Rafael Nadal is the greatest ever to play tennis on the red dirt...at least so far.
The only man who may have been as dominant during his own era was the legendary Bjorn Borg, who walked away from tennis at age 26.
Since 2005, Nadal has lost only six matches on clay. In 2005, Nadal lost to Russian Igor Andreev in the quarterfinals of Valencia. Again in 2005, Nadal lost to Argentine Gaston Gaudio 6-0, 0-6, 1-6 during the quarterfinals at Buenos Aires.
The Majorcan did not lose another match on clay until Hamburg in 2007 when he was defeated by Roger Federer in the final. In 2008, Nadal lost to Juan Carlos Ferrero 6-2, 2-6, 0-6 in the round of 32 in Rome. In 2009, Federer defeated Nadal in Madrid 6-4, 6-4 in the final. Then, of course, Nadal lost to Robin Soderling, also in 2009 in the fourth round of the French Open––his first lost ever at Stade Roland Garros.
On clay Nadal is 175-6 to be exact. It gives the Majorcan a winning percentage of 96.7.
Borg won 30 clay-court titles before retiring at age 26; Nadal, age 24, has won 30 with surely more to be added.
Nadal not only broke the previous record for consecutive matches won on clay––he obliterated it by winning 81 consecutive clay-court matches from April 2005 to May 2007. The next closest man was Guillermo Vilas, who had a 53-match winning streak on clay.
The man who ended Nadal's seemingly unending streak was Roger Federer, who defeated Nadal at Hamburg in their 2007 final. It was the only clay-court final Nadal had ever lost to that point.
Nadal has won five French Open singles titles in six years, four consecutively. Borg won six French Open titles, four consecutively. With a win in 2011, Nadal will tie Borg’s record.
Not many bet against him accomplishing that feat, mainly because Nadal has done it five times already, starting in 2005––five good reasons to pick him to win French Open No. 6...