What Records Rafael Nadal Is Chasing in This Clay-Court Season?

Published 04/11/2021, 1:30 PM EDT
PARIS, FRANCE – OCTOBER 11: Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning a point during his Men’s Singles Final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia on day fifteen of the 2020 French Open at Roland Garros on October 11, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

The clay swing of the season in tennis always raises one question in particular- Will Rafael Nadal dominate again? The Spaniard has innumerable records on the surface already, but there are still a few of them he hasn’t conquered yet, and 2021 might be the year for him to do so.


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Most Grand Slam titles

Last year’s short clay-court run did give Rafa the opportunity to win a record-equaling 20th Grand Slam. Fast forward to 2021 and Nadal could hold the Grand Slam tally record exclusively if he wins French Open 2021.


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Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning French Open 2020. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Most Masters titles

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have battled each other for supremacy in the ATP Masters 1000 title tally. Currently, Nadal is one Masters title behind Djokovic; the Serbian has 36 and Nadal has 35. With three Masters tournaments on clay in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome respectively, Nadal could again jump ahead of Djokovic in this record.

Most big titles

Big titles include Grand Slams, tour finals, ATP Masters 1000 tournaments, and the Olympic Games. Djokovic leads in terms of big titles won with 59 while Nadal is three behind him. The clay-court season gives Nadal four big tournaments, and in all of them, he could reign supreme.

Rafael Nadal with  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal could enter the top five list of most matches played

Nadal has played over 1200 matches in his career. Yet he sits 6th in the all-time list of most matches played. He has played 1210 matches and is 14 behind Ilie Nastase, who sits in 5th. With the pedigree of going deep in clay tournaments, Nadal could not only jump into 5th in the list but also cross Guillermo Vilas in 4th.

450 clay court victories and 500 clay-court matches

In terms of matches played, Nadal is behind other clay-court legends, but his match win percentage is incredibly high. He has played 485 matches and sits 7th on the all-time list. With 15 matches he could reach 500 matches on clay.

Out of 485 matches, Nadal has won 445 matches. That is a mammoth win percentage of 91.75 percent. He is thus five wins short of 450 and will become the second player in history to achieve that.


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Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

‘La Decima’ four times

Over the years, Nadal has had a knack for winning consecutive titles at tournaments. Thus, at some tournaments, he has accumulated numerous titles. Currently, Nadal is the only player to win 10 titles in three different tournaments. He has 13 at the French Open, 11 in Monte Carlo, and 11 in Barcelona. He also has nine Italian Open titles and thus this year could make it 10 and include it in his ‘La Decima’ club.


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Bhavishya Mittal

1226 articles

Bhavishya Mittal is a tennis author for EssentiallySports, who is currently pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Manipal University. A former sports editor for The Manipal Journal, Bhavishya has also worked for The New Indian Express. He has a keen eye for many sports but he is a particularly ardent follower of tennis, with a zest to create riveting articles on the ever-evolving sport.