10 players who beat Rafael Nadal on clay after losing the first set

Denis Shapovalov and Rafael Nadal shake hands after their match at the 2022 Italian Open
Denis Shapovalov and Rafael Nadal shake hands after their match at the 2022 Italian Open

Facing Rafael Nadal on a claycourt is arguably the ultimate challenge in the history of tennis. The 35-year-old Spaniard holds a 466-44 (91.4%) record on clay and has won a men's record of 62 titles on the surface.

Here is a look at the 10 players to have defeated the 'King of Clay' on his favorite surface after losing the opening set:

#1 Alex Corretja

Rafael Nadal was beaten for the first time after taking the first set in a clay court match by former World No. 2 Alex Corretja at the 2003 Barcelona Open. A 16-year-old Nadal, playing as a wildcard, was downed 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the second round of the ATP International Series Gold (now ATP 500) event by the eighth-seeded countryman.


Two-time Roland Garros finalist Corretja also defeated his fellow Spaniard in their only other encounter at the 2003 Madrid Masters. Corretja retired in 2005 after winning 17 ATP singles titles.

#2 Nicolas Lapentti

Later in 2003, Rafael Nadal met former World No. 6 Nicolas Lapentti in the quarterfinals of the Bastad Open in Sweden. The sixth-seeded Ecuadorian prevailed 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(8) over the unseeded 18-year-old in the quarterfinals of the ATP International Series (now ATP 250) tournament.

The Spaniard beat Lapentti in straight sets in their other two meetings - at the 2008 Cincinnati Masters and the 2009 Monte-Carlo Masters. The Ecuadorian retired in 2011, having won five ATP singles titles.

#3 Gaston Gaudio

Rafael Nadal faced 2004 Roland Garros champion Gaston Gaudio for the third time in the quarterfinals of the 2005 ATP Buenos Aires. No. 2 seed Gaudio defeated the seventh-seeded Spaniard 0-6, 6-0, 6-1 at the ATP International Series event, becoming the first player to bagel the 'King of Clay' on his favorite surface.


The Spaniard beat the Argentine in the pair's following three matches, with the head-to-head series finishing 3-3. Gaudio, who was ranked as high as No. 5 and won eight singles titles, retired in 2011.

#4 Roger Federer

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer contested their 11th overall meeting and sixth claycourt clash in the final of the 2007 Hamburg Masters. The Swiss, the then World No. 1, triumphed 2-6, 6-2, 6-0 against his second-seeded opponent to record his first win on clay over his great rival.


The victory ended the Spaniard's record 81-match winning streak on clay. The 13-time French Open champion has won nine of the pair's 10 claycourt meetings since his defeat to Federer at the former Masters 1000 event.

#5 Horacio Zeballos

Rafael Nadal met Argentine Horacio Zeballos in the final of the ATP 250 event in Vina del Mar, Chile in 2013 - his first event since the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. The unseeded Argentine edged the No. 1 seed, who was playing as a wildcard, 6-7(2), 7-6(6), 6-4 to win his only ATP singles title.


The Spaniard won his other two encounters with Zeballos at Roland Garros in 2010 and the Barcelona Open in 2017. The 37-year-old Argentine - now a doubles specialist - reached a career-high singles ranking of World No. 39 in March 2013.

#6 Nicolas Almagro

Rafael Nadal faced compatriot Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals of the 2014 Barcelona Open, having won all nine of the pair's previous clashes. The No. 6 seed, a former World No. 9, stunned the top seed and three-time defending champion 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 at the ATP 500 tourmanent.


The 21-time Grand Slam champion won the duo's following five encounters, with the head-to-head finishing 15-1. Almagro won 13 ATP titles before retiring in 2019.

#7 Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic is the only player to have recorded two wins against Nadal on clay after losing the opening set. The first of these victories came in the final of the 2014 Italian Open, where the No. 2-seeded Serb recovered to down the No. 1 seed and two-time defending champion 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.


Djokovic then repeated the feat by battling past his great rival 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-2 in an epic Roland Garros semifinal last year. The Spaniard holds a 19-8 overall record against the Serb on clay.

#8 Fabio Fognini

Rafael Nadal faced off against Fabio Fognini for the fifth time in the semifinals of the 2015 Rio Open, an ATP 500 tournament. The fourth-seeded Italian defeated the No. 1 seed 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 to earn his maiden victory over the Spaniard and his first of three wins against him in 2015.


The 35-year-old currently holds a 13-4 record against Fognini, including 7-3 on clay. The 34-year-old Italian, a former World No. 9, won the pair's most recent claycourt meeting in the last four of the 2019 Monte-Carlo Masters.

#9 Pablo Cuevas

In the semifinals of the 2016 Rio Open, Nadal met Pablo Cuevas for the third time, having won both previous encounters. The unseeded Uruguayan prevailed 6-7(6), 7-6(3), 6-4 to win for the first and only time against the Spaniard.


Nadal has won three of his matches against Cuevas since that defeat and holds a 5-1 record against the Uruguayan. Cuevas has been ranked as high as World No. 19 and won six ATP singles titles.

#10 Denis Shapovalov

At this week's Italian Open in Rome, Rafael Nadal suffered his 10th and most recent claycourt defeat from being a set up against Denis Shapovalov. The World No. 16 won 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 in the last 16 of the ATP Masters 1000 event, with the great Spaniard struggling with his foot injury as the match went on.


It was the Canadian's second win over Nadal in six clashes and his first on claycourt, having lost their previous two matches on the surface.

📝 Derrotaton a Rafa Nadal 🇪🇸 sobre arcilla tras perder el primer set (Men’s Singles):🇪🇸 Àlex Corretja🇪🇨 Nicolás Lapentti🇦🇷 Gastón Gaudio🇨🇭 Roger Federer🇦🇷 Horacio Zeballos🇪🇸 Nicolás Almagro🇷🇸 Novak Djokovic (x2)🇮🇹 Fabio Fognini🇺🇾 Pablo Cuevas🇨🇦 Denis Shapovalov

Also Check Out :- French Open 2022 Schedule

What is the foot injury that has troubled Rafael Nadal over the years? Check here

Quick Links

Edited by Keshav Gopalan
Be the first one to comment