“Only Player in the Open Era”: Rafael Nadal Sets an Incredible Record at the Barcelona Open

Published 04/23/2021, 6:03 PM EDT
Tennis – ATP 500 – Barcelona Open – Real Club de Tennis Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain – April 23, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his quarter final match against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie REUTERS/Albert Gea


Twenty time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal has reached yet another semi-final at the ongoing Barcelona Open for the 13th time in his career. He defeated Cameron Norrie at the quarterfinals in straight sets, 6-1,6-4.

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Even though he didn’t look as lethal as he is known to be on clay, he managed to sail through to the semi-finals on his home turf.

Rafael Nadal dismantles Cameron Norrie at the Barcelona Open

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While Norrie struggled in the first set to find any momentum going his way, he managed to pull things through in the second. With good control and depth on his lefty forehand, the Brit managed to extract a few errors from Nadal. It was surprising to see the clay-court maestro missing a lot of forehands on the red dirt.

Tennis – ATP 500 – Barcelona Open – Real Club de Tennis Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain – April 23, 2021 Spain’s Rafael Nadal in action during his quarter final match against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie REUTERS/Albert Gea

Owing to a couple of shaky games from the Nadal, Norrie was able to level the game at 4-4 in the second set. Just when Norrie had a bit of luck going his way, Nadal was quick to break the Brit’s serve and finished the prospects by winning the 10th game of the set, and hence the match.

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With this victory, Rafael Nadal claims another record in the Men’s Open Era. He became the first player to win 450 matches on both hard and clay surfaces. What’s astonishing is that the world’s best clay-court player has won more hard court matches(490) than clay (450).

Nadal is an exquisite volley-master

This stat proves that Nadal is a hard-court specialist as well. An example of his hard-court mastery is the 2019 US Open finals against Daniil Medvedev. Playing against a well-established hard-court player like Medvedev, the Spaniard had to bring out his experience and mix it with a wide range of shots. He even tried a lot of serve-and-volleys in the match which proved to be a wondrous improvement against the Russian.

He is also an exquisite volley master; the term is usually associated to Roger Federer but Nadal has shown a dramatic improvement on his net-game in order to keep up with the competition from younger next-gen players like Stefanos Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem and others

In fact, every member of the Big-3 has proved their mastery on all the three surfaces (hard, clay, and grass) at several phases of their glorious careers. In comparison to these three stalwarts, most of the current younger crop of players are more suited and dominant on hard-courts and are failing to leave an impact on either clay or grass courts.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 06: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates his straight sets victory to the crowd after his Men’s Singles semi-final match against Matteo Berrettini of Italy on day twelve of the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 06, 2019 in Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

However, with his victory at the Monte-Carlo Masters, Stefanos Tsitsipas is proving to be a lethal force on clay and can win a couple of clay-court tournaments this season.

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Coming back to Nadal’s current clay-court season, he is able to bounce-back at the Barcelona Open after an early exit from the Monte-Carlo Masters. Even though it’s too soon to predict his French Open chances, it will be a tough battle for the Spaniard to claim his 14th French Open title this year as he is yet to find his groove on the red turf.

The sooner he finds his mojo back, the difficult it will be for players like Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and others to stop him from winning.

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Sagar Ashtakoula

481 articles

Sagar Ashtakoula is a tennis writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the sport since 2007. Having developed an interest in creating content, he mixed his passion for writing with his love for tennis for 2 years at SportsKeeda before joining the tennis team at EssentiallySports.

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