THE KING OF CLAY: ¡VAMOS, RAFA!

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Work hard, have fun and make it happen*

 

By Rose Maramba

Second seed Rafael Nadal of Spain beat Australian fourth-seed Dominic Thiem at Roland Garros, Paris, the world’s most important tennis tournament on clay.  Glad to listen to the Spanish anthem played as Nadal raised the trophy for his 12th French Open title.

Coupe des Mousquetaires, Roland Garros men’s singles trophy

The dazzler: 6-3 5-7 6-1 6-1

On this mild Sunday, 9 June 2019, the combatants at the men’s final started off evenly matched. Each won one of the first two sets. But when all is said and done, Thiem was playing his second ever Grand Slam final against Nadal’s up till then 17 final wins!  And even though he became the first player to win a set against the Spaniard in a French Open final since 2014, that was hardly enough to topple the King of Clay from his throne.

Court Philippe Chatier, 24 May 2011: Nadal defeats John Isner (USA)

Nadal’s latest master stroke at Roland Garros has made him the first player to win a dozen titles on the same court, the Court Philippe Chatrier.  Margaret Court won 12 Australian Opens but at different venues; Roger Federer won eight at Wimbledon; Novak Djokovic seven at Australian Open.

Put differently, Nadal is the only male player to win twelve titles at one particular Grand Slam event, i.e., the French Open.

But for two years, The King has had a straight win at Roland Garros from 2005 to 2019. He lost in fourth round to Robin Soderling in 2009. In quarterfinals of 2015 he lost to Djokovic. Twenty sixteen is another story: having sustained an injury, he had to withdraw from the match after the second round.

The King of Clay in 2007

Says The New York Times this Sunday: “Such outrageous dominance has not been to the liking of those who prefer a healthy dose of suspense, but it is one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of professional sports.”

Thirty-three year old Nadal now has 18 Grand Slams: 12 French Opens, 2 Wimbledons, 3 US Opens, and 1 Australian Open. That’s just two short of Federer’s record, Nadal’s eternal rival.

Born in the Balearic Island of Mallorca, Nadal was ATP’s World Number One from 18 August 2008 to 5 July 2009, 7 June 2010 to 3 July 2011, 7 October 2013 to 6 July 2014,  21 August 2017 to 18 February 2018, 2 April 2018 to 13 May 2018, 21 May 2018 to 17 June 2018, and 25 June 2018 to 4 November 2018.

He is currently second to Djokovic, Number One tennis player on ATP ranking.

Spain is understandably proud of its all-time best athlete.

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*Rafa from his official website www.rafanadal.com

 

Images
Featured image/Dilliff, CC BY3.0
Trophy/Mamtaattrinain, CC BY-SA4.0
Court Philippe Chatier/Yann Caradec, CC BY-SA2.0
King of Clay/urtea, CC BY-SA2.0