Rafael Nadal: 10 Reasons Why He Is the Most Dominant Player in the Game
The Wimbledon concludes this Sunday and lo and behold Rafa Nadal is in the final match.
Win or lose, what Nadal has accomplished in his career has been impressive. That might even be an understatement.
He may not be No. 1 in the world anymore, but he definitely is the most dominant player in the game today. A victory on Sunday will exemplify this notion even further.
Here are ten reasons why Nadal is the most dominant in the game today.
The man is relentless.
Anybody who has watched even a little bit of tennis can see the blood that Nadal spills on the court every match. Whether he's down two sets or up two sets, whether it's scorching hot or it's freezing cold, Nadal plays the same way.
Perhaps the best evidence for this claim is the 2008 Wimbledon Final. This critically acclaimed match has been lauded as one of the greatest matches ever played. The match lasted four hours and 48 minutes in rainy conditions and Nadal was up against the greatest player in the game at the time in Roger Federer.
Despite this, Nadal was able to overcome the conditions and deliver his first Wimbledon title.
King of Clay
It's really unbelievable when one looks at Nadal's statistics on a clay surface.
First of all, he's only lost one match at the French Open, which is a clay surface, and that came in the fourth round in 2009. He's won six of the last seven French Open titles, including a string of four straight which came from 2005-2008. Overall, he's 45-1 with a 97 percent winning percentage at the French Open. Absolutely stellar.
On clay surfaces throughout his career, Nadal has an astonishing record of 227 wins and 18 losses (92.65 percent rate). It's also important to note that two-thirds of those losses came before 2006 when Nadal was still young. He's only lost six matches on clay since 2006.
Compared to grass surfaces and hard surfaces, Nadal's record is ridiculously higher on clay. On grass he has an 82 percent success rate and on hard surfaces he has a 77 percent success rate. These are still amazing numbers, but compared to his game on clay they are definitely not as impressive.
Improvements on His Struggles
In the last slide, it was mentioned that Nadal's winning percentage on grass and hard surfaces were significantly lower than his winning percentage on clay.
This is because early on in his career he had struggled on those surfaces.
But what makes an athlete a true champion is his ability to overcome adversity and become great at aspects of the game he was once weak in.
Nadal has done that. After years of falling short at the Wimbledon, for instance, Nadal won his first title in 2008. Then he followed it up with another title in 2010 after skipping the 2009 Wimbledon. Since 2008, Nadal has won twenty consecutive matches on the grass court of Wimbledon. A win tomorrow will mean that Nadal has won three of the last four Wimbledon titles.
What was once known as Federer's tournament can now be called Nadal's tournament.
Even on hard surfaces, Nadal has improved. In 2007 he had a 72 percent winning rate on hard surfaces. Last season he had a 81.6 percent winning rate and this year it's even better at 82.6 percent.
Nadal has improved on his weaknesses and this once again exemplifies why he's the greatest in the game today.
Forget the French Open, Wimbledon, Australian Open, and US Open. Although they're known as the Grand Slam tournaments, only one tournament has the prestige of the Olympics.
And Nadal's won that, too.
In his first Olympic appearance, Nadal won six matches and took the Gold Medal in Beijing against Fernando Gonzalez. By doing so, Nadal became No. 1 in the world to cap off an amazing summer of 2008 where he won the French Open, the Wimbledon, and Olympic Gold.
In a country where most of the greatest athletes of all-time are bullfighters or matadors, Rafael Nadal cemented his legacy in Spain by having an asteroid named after him.
Yes, an asteroid.
What's more dominant than an asteroid?
An asteroid is possibly the only object known to man that can destroy the whole world. That's pretty dominant. And to have an asteroid named after an athlete exemplifies how dominant that athlete has been.
Record Against Federer
People always want to argue and say how Federer is the best in the game today.
Okay then let's take a look at the numbers.
This isn't like comparing LeBron James and Kobe Bryant in the NBA where it's a team game and having good teammates effects how many titles the player has won.
Tennis is simple. It's one-on-one.
People call Federer versus Nadal the greatest rivalry in tennis. But how can it be a rivalry if Nadal has won 17 of the 25 matches? That's a whopping 68 percent success rate against one of the greatest to ever play the game!
Okay, well maybe Federer has won the important matches in the Grand Slam tournaments?
Nadal has defeated Federer six out of eight times in Grand Slam matches.
How can one say Federer is a better player when Nadal has seemingly destroyed him head to head? The age difference isn't that wide of a gap. Also, at one point Nadal was inexperienced and Federer was the one in his prime.
Record Against Djokovic
No matter what happens Sunday at the Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic will take over the No. 1 ranking in the world. He has had a stellar year, going 47-1 with his only loss coming at Wimbledon.
But does that mean Djokovic is more dominant than Nadal?
Again, let's look at the numbers.
In 27 matches, Nadal has won 16 of them and he can make it 17 soon.
Rankings are just numbers. One must look at the head to head to get the true story. Also, as dominant as Djokovic has been this past year, it's important to note that he has only won one major throughout this time period. If he loses the Wimbledon final, he'll still be stuck at one Grand Slam. Can we really call this guy the greatest in the game?
Record Against Everyone Else
How about everyone else?
Again, let's look at the records.
When observing Nadal's record against players who have been ranked 30th or better throughout his career, we see something absolutely glaring.
Nadal has a winning record against each and every one of these players except for five of them. And four of those five are small sample sizes against players he played during his inexperienced days in the mid 2000s.
For instance, he's 0-2 against a guy named Alex Corretja. He's 0-1 against another guy named Paradorn Scrichiphan, and 0-1 against Joachim Johansson. We definitely can't hold that against Nadal.
Nadal has literally dominated everyone. He's 6-3 against Andy Roddick, 7-2 against Juan Carlos Ferrero, 12-4 against Andy Murray, 6-2 against Soderling. In fact, against players who have been No. 1 at some point in their careers, he is 62-30. He's even 2-0 against Andre Agassi!
The only guy that Nadal has legitimately struggled against is Nikolay Davydenko. He's 4-6 against him lifetime.
Guess everyone has their Kryptonite.
All of these great tennis superstars are extremely talented. So it's not shear physical talent alone that puts Nadal over everyone else. There definitely has to be a mental aspect for why he is so dominant against everyone.
When watching Nadal play, it is easy to see how he sets in, no matter the situation, and focuses on the task at hand. All champions have this quality. It doesn't matter what the sport is.
Once again, the 2008 Wimbledon final is great evidence for this quality. Despite rain delays and being up against the greatest in the game at the time, Nadal was still able to prevail.
Still in His Prime
Let's not forget. Nadal is only 25. He's still relatively young and has a few more solid years left in him.
Federer, on the other hand, is 29. His best days are behind him. Nadal's youth and dominance makes him the greatest in the game today. A win tomorrow will cement that for sure.
Even a loss tomorrow won't make a difference because of his record against essentially all of his opponents.
He beats everyone, everywhere.