Grandes Español: Rafael Nadal and the Top 10 Spanish Tennis Players in History

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Grandes Español: Rafael Nadal and the Top 10 Spanish Tennis Players in History
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The quarterfinals of the French Open were under way on June 3, 1986.

The World No. 1 Ivan Lendl defeated Ecuador's Andres Gomez 6-7, 7-6, 6-0, 6-0.

The Czech born would then beat South Africa's Johan Kriek in the semifinals and Sweden's Michaël Pernfors for his second Roland Garros title.

On the same day, a few miles away in Manacor, Spain, a baby boy by the name of Rafael Nadal was born.

Who knew in 1986 that Lendl, Borg and Wilander would be equaled, or topped, by one of the best clay court players ever?

Who knows if on June 3, 2011 the next clay court giant won't be born and grab 10 French opens.
As for now, there is no doubt that Spain has seen the rise of tennis at a level they never imagined possible.

What is so stunning about Rafael Nadal, in my opinion, is not the fact that he has already five Roland Garros at the age of 24.

It's definitely huge, but I will always remember one of his press conference in 2005 when he claimed, "The tournament I want to win the most is Wimbledon."

Of course at the time everybody made fun of him and thought he was joking, especially because Spaniard has always been known for wanting to win Roland Garros.

As soon as the grass-court season would start we knew that Costas, Corretjas and Moyas would either lose in the early rounds or not even play Wimbledon.

Therefore, to witness the rise of Rafael Nadal has to be nothing but praised.

We can have issues about his style of play, but to hate the Spaniard is not fair.

It is so hard to even win a small future tournament run by the ITF.

Consequently, to break tennis records has to be nothing but admirable.

That includes Roger Federer, of course, but also Spain's Albert Costa, who won Roland Garros back in 2002.

Before Rafael Nadal, Manolo Santana was the only player to have win the French, Wimbledon and the US Open. But remember that the US Open was played on grass in the 60s.

Between Santana and Nadal, great players like Sergi Bruguera, Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Carlos Moya or Juan-Carlos Ferrero emerged from Spain.

Nevertheless, no one has come close to what Rafael Nadal has achieved at the age of 24.

As the clay court season is in full swing, we thought it might be the moment to rank the top 10 best tennis players from Spain.



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