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Could the 'King of Clay' become the 'King of Tennis'?

Harry David new author
Roar Rookie
6th October, 2013
12

In the wake of Rafael Nadal’s ascent up the world tennis rankings, nobody gave a chance to the “King of Clay” again reaching the dizzy heights of world No. 1 at the beginning of 2013.

Yet somehow, after one of the most remarkable years on the tennis tour, Rafa will achieve just that.

So much has been said about Nadal’s incredible comeback in 2013 following an eight-month injury layoff in 2012. Even without all the superlatives used to describe Nadal’s 2013 comeback, his record this year speaks for itself.

After reaching 13 of a possible 14 finals so far in 2013, and converting 10 of the 13 finals into victories, Rafa is two tournament wins away from equaling Roger Federer’s most successful year on tour in 2006.

With a 27-0 record on hard court surfaces this year and a 61-3 record on all surfaces, you wouldn’t bet against Rafa winning two of the five remaining hard court tournaments in 2013.

On the back of an incredible season, many tennis pundits are now seriously giving respect to the question of who will be considered the greatest player of all time?

No doubt Federer currently holds that distinction, but with a five-year age gap between the two players, anything could happen.

Two legends of the game, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, both gave their thoughts on the matter in saying that Nadal could overtake Federer by the end of his career.

Looking at the statistics, they may just have a point.

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Most notably, Nadal holds a 21-10 head-to-head record against Federer.

When comparing the two players at the same age, they had both claimed 13 grand slams victories, however Nadal holds four more ATP tour tournament victories then Federer did at the same age.

What makes Nadal’s record even more incredible is that he has won more tournaments then Federer despite playing 17 fewer at the same age.

Many of Nadal’s victories have come on the clay court surface, a fact many tennis spectators argue diminishes Nadal’s claim to becoming the greatest of all time.

Yet with Nadal’s incredible dominance on the hard court surface in 2013, that argument is becoming less and less credible.

The next five years are going to be critical in answering the enticing debate on who will be considered the greatest.

But one thing is for sure – after season 2013, there’s every chance the “King of Clay” could become the “King of Tennis”.