Nadal, God on earth: the data of a unique domain for any sport

With his fourteenth triumph at Roland Garros, Rafa Nadal once again exhibits his brutal superiority on clay, his favorite surface. It is an amazing domain, for which it is difficult to find equivalents, not in the history of tennis, but in the history of any sport.

Between 1990 and 2004, 11 players won in Paris. Then Nadal arrived in 2005, and since then only three tennis players have received the glory of the Chatrier: Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic, the latter twice. Eighteen years have passed, and all the other cups —up to a total of 14— were taken by Nadal.


Nadal has dominated the Parisian land with 14 titles. Since 2005 only Djokovic (twice), Federer and Wawrinka have managed to win in Paris

Nadal has dominated the Parisian land with 14 titles. Since 2005 only Djokovic (twice), Federer and Wawrinka have managed to win in Paris

Nadal has dominated the Parisian land with 14 titles. Since 2005 only Djokovic (twice), Federer and Wawrinka have managed to win in Paris

Nadal has dominated the Parisian land with 14 titles. Since 2005 only Djokovic (twice), Federer and Wawrinka have managed to win in Paris

The last 20 years have been the worst to be a specialist on clay, because any tennis player had to face the Balearic Islands: Nadal’s dictatorship, season after season, has made it impossible for other players to win the Parisian trophy. Only the Borg of the 1970s can come close to the Spanish’s record, and even so he watches it from afar, from his six Musketeers’ Cups, less than half.

The ground is the ideal surface for Nadal’s game, where the left-hander unleashes the spin of the ball that has brought him so many successes. His topspin prints such an effect on the ball that it overwhelms rivals due to the height he reaches after the bounce.

The superiority of the Balearic leaves no doubt when taking a look at the Elo ranking on clay, a metric that gauges the strength based on results and the rivals of each player. Since Nadal got enough points to lead this classification, in 2005, he has not let go of the lead for more than two years, in 2015 and 2016.

In half a century, there is no other tennis player who has been superior to others for so long. In the late seventies, Borg was the best on this surface for 5 consecutive years, and was in the top three for nine seasons. Ivan Lendl spent 11 years in the top three, a few years later. But Nadal is in another dimension: he has been the best for 16 years and has been in the top two for 18 years.

Djokovic was the best on clay the two years that Nadal faltered minimally. The Serbian has spent 14 years in the top three of this surface, and it is inevitable to wonder how many years would have been the best if Rafael Nadal had not existed.

Another piece of information to see the singular dominance of the Spanish tennis player on clay is his percentage of games won: between Grand Slam and Masters 1000, since 2005 he has played 338 games and won 309, 91%. It is a reliability that his historical tennis rivals do not reach, neither Roger Federer on grass (89%), nor Novak Djokovic on hard court (85%).


Percentage of matches they have won per season on their favorite surface in Grand Slam and Master 1000: Nadal on land, federer on grass Y Djokovic on hard court.

Percentage of matches they have won per season on their favorite surface in Grand Slam and Master 1000: Nadal on land, federer on grass Y Djokovic on hard court.

Percentage of matches they have won per season on their favorite surface in Grand Slam and Master 1000: Nadal on land, federer on grass Y Djokovic on hard court.

Neither Djokovic nor Federer have played this season on their favorite surface.

Percentage of matches they have won per season on their favorite surface in Grand Slam and Master 1000: Nadal on land, federer on grass Y Djokovic on hard court.

Neither Djokovic nor Federer have played this season on their favorite surface.

In 2005, 2006 and 2010, Nadal won every match he played on clay in the top flight, about twenty each time. For a decade he won 90% of matches, between 2005 and 2014, and he returned to those numbers again between 2017 and 2020. By comparison, Djokovic has only been above 90% on hard courts for six years of his career, and they were not followed.

More Grand Slam than any man, already one of Serena Williams

Nadal is the male tennis player with the most Grand Slam titles in history, with 22 trophies, two more than Federer and Djokovic. He there he sets the bar for the future for the moment, after competing for two decades to raise the figure that today measures excellence in this sport.

The absolute bar in the open era continues higher, in the 23 titles that Serena Williams has achieved so far.

When Roger Federer won his first major in 2003, the stick was in Sampras’ 14 titles and the podium could be accessed with nine majors, but the price of the record has skyrocketed with this historic competition to three: beat Federer and Djokovic It requires 21 titles, and from this Sunday, beating Nadal requires 23.

You can follow EL PAÍS Sports in Facebook Y Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.

Exclusive content for subscribers

read without limits


#Nadal #God #earth #data #unique #domain #sport

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.