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In case you were wondering, Rafael Nadal is still the King of Clay

Sohinee Basu
ANALYST
Feature
721   //    23 Apr 2018, 23:26 IST

ATP Masters Series: Monte Carlo Rolex Masters - Day Eight
The King of Clay

Come springtime, every year, a certain robust Spaniard unfailingly stomps his feet, hurries across the court in a blurring speed, breathes in the swirling clay dust floating around and almost magically rises with it.

Like a phoenix, Rafael Nadal shakes off the rust and the ashes and gets ready to extend his dominance over the clay courts spread across the European continent.

There is no stopping this motivated 31-year-old who knows that nothing but hard work and finesse will win him the day. It feels surreal to witness mind-boggling tennis and live in the time when Federer and Nadal clash against each other.

At a time when Federer was enjoying and lapping up to all the glory of being the Numero Uno of the game completely unthreatened, along came the Spanish tornado of Nadal to shake that very throne. What began then is the stuff of legendary history and since then, the rivalry between Federer-Nadal is perhaps the greatest the world of tennis has seen.

Dethroning Federer was easy for the youngster, but driving him and everybody else from the reaches of clay and establishing himself as the King of Clay, is a job he undertook as he powered down aces and shot back cross-court backhands.

Although he got off to a shaky year start and had been unable to get to the end of any tournament since October 2017, Nadal is back in the game and how!

After polishing off a record-breaking 11th win at the Monte Carlo Masters yesterday, the Spaniard secured his 35th and 36th consecutive straight-set win on clay. His performance at Monte Carlo has been nothing short of phenomenal as he raced to win the 10 sets that he played this week in 6-1, 6-3, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.

If the statistics aren't staggering enough to account for his dominance, certain facts like how this is the seventh season in which Rafa has won his first title in Monte Carlo. Moreover, in three of those years (2008, 2010, 2017), he went on to finish No. 1.

A win at Monte Carlo sets him on the right foot towards approaching Roland Garros and getting the perfect grip on the clay swing. Monte Carlo is where everything comes into focus for Nadal, and where he can put any early-season doubts out of his mind.

The beginning of the year had been fraught with tension with Nadal's health coming into focus but his stellar performance at Monte Carlo gave away his supreme dominance he wields over the clay courts.

Last year when Nadal realized the ultimate dream of La Décima at Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Roland Garros without much sweat, we decided things could not get better than this.

However when the year start showed signs of a declining form and we minutely raised our eyebrows in speculation about him winning the French Open again, along he comes storming to win Monte Carlo and establish his prowess on clay.

With this recent win and his refurbished and rejuvenated form, the World No. 1 shows no signs of stopping and his eyes are set on getting laying his hands on La Undécima.

Ever since he came into the circuit, there has been no ignoring the dominating presence of Rafael Nadal. A 16-time Grand Slam Champion, he stamped himself as the player who grunts and grumbles and roars after winning every point and exults in jubilation, his mane of hair flowing behind him when he first came on tour.

Now shy of turning 32 in less than one and a half months, the Spaniard is on his mark and all set to create history and break his own records for there is no one by far to threaten him out of his league as far as clay season is concerned.

With the Monte Carlo win, Nadal is a sure ticket for winning the French Open for the 11th time. Nobody can question his dominance when you place him amidst the clay courts caressed by the Mediterranean breeze.

Reigning as the Numero Uno, Rafa is on fire and is raring to take home his eleventh French Open title and make his Grand Slam tally reach an enviable 17, lurking dangerously close behind Roger Federer.

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Sohinee Basu
ANALYST
I am this teeny-tiny adult kid with a horrible obsession of poetry and words. It will be too less to say that I love everything about tennis and a certain Roger Federer also! I love everything from the smell of old books to the thrill of watching tight matches!
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