In 2021 Rafael Nadal had only played in the Australian Open before starting the season on clay, but the Spanish champion, now on the threshold of 35 years (which he will turn in June), only needed one tournament to recover his condition and at the second attempt immediately returned to success by winning the ATP 500 tournament in Barcelona. The new number 2 in the world rankings (this week he overtook Daniil Medvedev) has an incredible clay court record: the Spaniard has won 61 clay titles, a record that is unlikely to be beaten in the future, just think that his two greatest rivals, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, have won 15 and 11 tournaments respectively on the circuit. The data in this ranking are incredible, the second with the most tournaments on clay is Guillermo Vilas at an altitude of 49 ahead of Thomas Mister at an altitude of 40 and another tennis legend like Bjorn Borg at an altitude of 30. Nadal has won 87 tournaments in his career and therefore we can calculate that Rafa has won about 70% of the tournaments on clay. In the aftermath of his latest triumph at the 500-level event, Rafael Nadal recalled how he was told by many doctors that he would have a short tennis career due to his playing style.
Rafael Nadal claimed his 12th Barcelona Open crown
“For many years I heard that I would have a short career because of my style of play,” Rafael Nadal said. “At the end of the day, I’m still here, fighting for the biggest titles. I love tennis. I’m proud of it.” Rafael Nadal also talked in detail about physical conditioning, and how it can be difficult for players to plan things before the start of a tournament. “In sport, it’s difficult to plan things, as it’s quite unpredictable,” Nadal said. “We try to be as ready as possible in every tournament. In fact, I arrived at Monte Carlo in very good shape, both in confidence and game, but then you have a bad match against a great player.” With this victory, the Spaniard moves to number two in the men’s singles rankings to be released on Monday. Speaking after that excruciating victory, Nadal reflected on the positives that he took from his disappointing run at the Monte-Carlo Masters. “I have made progress all week. It’s an important victory for the future. It’s a daily job. You have to accept the challenge, be humble to accept not always to play well, fight to find solutions. Nothing can be accomplished otherwise,” Nadal commented.