Nadal has been married to clay; it keeps him warm, it soothes him and it gives me happiness like no one else.
His domination on the surface has been there for everyone to see and here we see Federer and Djokovic decoding Nadal’s brilliance on the surface?
Roger Federer, who has opted out of the entire clay season for the 2nd consecutive time feels that Nadal’s movement and style of play is what sets him apart from the rest.
“Clearly Rafa has always had an advantage over me on a clay court and the record confirms that,” Federer said
“I tried many different things to change that head-to-head, changing a few things on my backhand, looking at different tactics, but he had the answers on clay.
“We see our matches on other surfaces are quite close, but this is where he has been dominant and at this point in my career, I have to give myself the best chance of winning tournaments and that is why I missed the clay court season (in 2017 and now in 2018)
“His movement is so impressive on clay and his game fits the surface perfectly. I feel like I can play well on clay, but it is physically demanding and Rafa has mastered that surface better than anyone.” he added.
Djokovic has been a great competitor for Rafa on clay over the last few years and he believes that the fact Nadal is a left hander and gets those amazing angles on court is what makes him invincible.
“Of course Rafa is the best clay-court player ever. I won the French [Open], Roger won there as well, but every other title for a long time has been Rafa,” Djokovic explained.
“He is the ultimate challenge on the surface. Look at the record, it is just crazy and this is why beating [him] at Roland Garros meant so much to me.
“He is not called King of Clay for nothing. He is the ultimate challenge on this surface and the player to beat every time we have a clay court tournament for a good reason. He is left handed and that helps his game, he gets amazing angles and shows good invention on the court,” he added.
Murray too has pointed out the ‘movement’ bit in explaining Nadal’s greatness.
“You see the way Rafa moves on clay and that helps him so much,” Murray said.
“Also, he doesn’t need time to adapt to it and that helps him.” he added
Nadal would be a man on a mission this clay season, after missing the US Hard court season with injury. Nadal does have a lot of point to defend this year as he won every tournament on the surface last year except the Rome Open.
How do you think he will fare?