- Rafael Nadal will return to action at the ATP Monte-Carlo Masters
- The Spaniard hasn’t played since pulling out of the semifinals at Indian Wells with a knee injury
- Nadal has a 57-8 record in tournament finals played on clay courts
There’s a romance about Monte-Carlo in the eyes of the general public but for Rafael Nadal, Monte-Carlo is about dancing with trophies. He’s won the ATP Monte-Carlo Masters the past three years and in 11 of the past 14 years.
Which of these titles was your favourite? ?
— ATP Tour (@atptour) April 10, 2019
No wonder as he makes his return to tournament tennis at Monte-Carlo, Nadal has been established as the favorite to win by sportsbooks.
2020 Monte-Carlo Open Men’s Singles Odds
|Player||Odds to Win Monte-Carlo Masters Men’s Singles|
*Odds taken on 04/13/19. Follow the link in the table above for a complete list of all players.
Nadal won this tournament eight years in a row from 2005-12. He won 46 consecutive matches in the event from 2005-13, the longest winning streak in any tournament in tennis history, either ATP or WTA.
A Twitter Outrage
When the ATP launched a promotional poster featuring the world’s top nine players to help hype the Monte-Carlo Masters, Nadal supporters did what he does on a clay court surface – they took control and they dominated the process.
ATP: "CLAY COURT THINGS"
If Rafa wins 15 Roland-Garros maybe they'll put him big in the middle ? pic.twitter.com/SpOIT1uSsd
— 9-7 in the 5th (@97InThe5th) April 7, 2019
The original poster featured Roger Federer as its main focus, but Nadal fans vented their outrage on Twitter.
They pointed out Nadal’s success at Monte-Carlo and his 11 titles on clay at Barcelona and at the French Open, the next Grand Slam event, and demanded the ATP make their man the centerpiece of their promo ad.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) April 9, 2019
Like Nadal, they won the day. The ATP changed the layout of the poster to make Nadal the focal point.
Returning To His Surface
It only makes perfect sense that Nadal would be back in action on the clay courts of Monte-Carlo. In the history of tennis, no player has dominated the clay surface the way he has during his career.
— Tennis Racket Pro (@tennisracketpro) April 2, 2019
Nadal hasn’t played tournament tennis in a month since he was forced to bow out of his semifinal against Federer at Indian Wells due to a knee injury. But nothing helps heal a wound like confidence, and on clay, no one plays with the confidence of Nadal.
Federer: "If I had to choose a Rafa Nadal's skill, it's the way he moves on clay. I think he does it extremely well." pic.twitter.com/FguHrwMtX9
— We Are Tennis (@WeAreTennis) April 9, 2019
You could say that when he’s on the red, Nadal is making the green.
In 2003, he assembled a 50-match win streak on clay, shattering Guillermo Cora’s ATP record of 35 matches. From 2005-07, Nadal destroyed his own, winning 81 clay-court matches in a row. He’s 57-8 lifetime in finals played on clay surfaces.
The vast majority of tennis experts view Nadal as the greatest clay-court player in the sport’s history. When he won the 2018 Monte-Carlo Masters, Nadal became the first player in the Open Era to earn 11 titles in the same tournament. Along with his 11 titles at Roland Garros in the French Open, Nadal owns eight Italian Open crowns among other top events played on clay surfaces.
Can Djokovic Win In Monte-Carlo?
In 2013, Novak Djokovic did what no other player has ever achieved – he beat Nadal in the Monte-Carlo Masters final. Djokovic also toppled Nadal in the semifinals en route to his 2015 Monte-Carlo title.
Nadal has beaten Djokovic in the Monte-Carlo final in 2009 and 2012. He’s also beaten Federer three times in Monte-Carlo finals, although Federer won’t be playing in this tournament. Among the so-called Big Three of tennis, Nadal is 11-1 against Djokovic and Federer in Grand Slam matches played on clay courts.
Nadal has won his last two meetings with Djokovic on clay. But in recent years in head-to-head showdowns on the surface, they’ve shared the wealth. Djokovic has won three of the last five matches and five of the last nine.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) April 10, 2019
Djokovic trails Nadal 16-7 on clay since 2006, but that stretch began with a nine-match Nadal winning streak. It’s basically been even-Steven since 2011.
Nadal’s Toughest Foe Is His Own Body
The biggest detriment to Nadal’s success of late has proven to be his own health. The tendinitis in his right knee has been an ongoing issue for the 32-year-old star. His own uncle and former coach Toni Nadal recently described Rafa as an injured person who plays tennis.
Last practice at the #RafaNadalAcademy! ?
— Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar (@rnadalacademy) April 11, 2019
Clay tends to be more forgiving to painful joints than a hard-court surface, so that should help. You still have to give Nadal his due on clay, at least until he displays that he can no longer get it done there.