By Toni Headley
Toni Headley is a tennis expert who worked at ESPN for 10 years and has been a freelance writer there for the past 2 years. She also previously worked at CBS Sports and has covered every major tennis tournament in the world multiple times.
Rafael Nadal has begun the clay court season in spectacular fashion by winning his first two tournaments without dropping a set. First he defended his Monte Carlo title at the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters – 1000, where he won his 8th consecutive title, his first title since winning the French Open last year. He is 44-1 in Monte Carlo with his only loss coming during his debut in 2003 in the round of 16. Not only did he defend his title in Monte Carlo, but he was finally able to best his arch-rival Novak Djokovic, whom he had lost to in seven finals dating back to last year. Nadal is the only player to win at least 1 ATP Masters – 1000 title for eight consecutive years. In doing so he won is 20th Masters – 1000 trophy, which broke a tie with Roger Federer.
At his home club, the “Real Club Tenis Barcelona,” Nadal won his 7th consecutive title and his 35th straight match on the 10th anniversary of his professional debut. This makes Nadal the only player in the open era to have won two tournaments seven times (Monte Carlo & Barcelona). He is 35-1 in Barcelona with his only loss coming in his debut in 2003 in the 2nd round. He defeated fellow Spaniard David Ferrer for the 4th time in the championship match (2008, 2009, 2011, & 2012); he did not defend his title in 2010. Nadal has now won 77 straight matches on clay in the month of April to go along with his 15 titles. This is how you earn the title “King of Clay”. Continue reading