Asking whether Nadal is the clay GOAT is wrong in my opinion, because his career is not finished. But you can always ask whether he is the clay GOAT yet. I don’t like it too much when people start these GOAT discussions before a player’s career is over, because they do the same with Roger. You can always say that Roger is the GOAT already, but you can never say he is not the GOAT, because he is still playing and setting up new records all the time. Above you will find an article talking about Nadal’s clay court dominance. It was a decent article, although I didn’t like that the author kept quoting Spanish players. As if they are not going top be biased! The Spanish players are known to lie down when playing against Nadal, so they should be the last to be asked for an opinion. According to this article the French sporting newspaper L’Equipe published a poll where players, officials, and pundits voted for the clay GOAT between Nadal and Borg, and Nadal just edged out Borg 163-159.
But the most interesting thing about the article is that uncle Toni voted for Borg.
“Because I remember Borg,” Toni Nadal explained in an interview with ESPN.com. “Borg was the best. … It’s difficult to win a point against him.
“And maybe when I saw the matches of Rafael, I don’t think Rafael is so good.”
“If he wins two more, then maybe he’s better, but not at the moment,” Toni said.
How can you argue with that? You have the most influential person on Nadal’s tennis career saying these things, and someone who is old enough to have seen Borg play a lot as well. Borg was a little before my time, but I know that he was pretty much just a machine. Nadal and Borg have achieved similar levels of success on clay at similar stages in their careers. Therefore I don’t think it’s fair to call Nadal the clay GOAT yet. Grand slam titles are always the most important measuring stick when it comes to greatness, and Nadal is still two short of Borg’s six Roland Garros titles. So I must agree with uncle Toni. Nadal will only be the clay GOAT once he had won two more titles at the French Open. If he equals Borg I think it would be good enough to make him the clay GOAT, because his record has been slightly more impressive than Borg outside the slams so far.
For instance Nadal holds the record for most consecutive wins on clay at 81, while Borg is only third on that list with 53. Something else that the article mentions and that has to be considered is the rate at which these clay courters burn out. Guys like Borg himself, Kuerten, Courier, Coria, and Bruguera all seemed to hit a wall at some stage in their career, and there was already signs of that happening to Nadal in the last 12 months or so. I’ve said for a while now that this year’s French Open is going to be crucial for him. He needs to win it or he may fall short of all the clay GOAT expectations. I don’t think he will last too much longer with the taxing game style he plays. It is very possible that he will walk the same path as Borg and the others and just hit a wall in the next couple of years or so. In fact I think it is inevitable.
As the French Open goes on, we will see if Nadal shows any signs of weakness. He didn’t look as impressive as Roger in his first round match today against a French kid called Mina, but still won 6-2, 6-2, 6-2. It was a much closer match than the scoreline suggests though. Regardless of whether Nadal is beatable or not, I just keep dreaming of the possibility that Roger can beat him in the French Open final. After Roger won the French Open last year, a lot of people are now saying that Roger must beat Nadal at Roland Garros for his GOAT status to be legitimate. I’m sure you can guess what I think of that. Roger has done the hard yards over the years at the French Open and he totally deserved that title. Whether he beats Nadal in Paris is not important because if he beats him, then Nadal will probably not become the clay GOAT.
If he does not beat him, then Nadal becomes the clay GOAT, and no player can be the GOAT on all surfaces. So beating Nadal on clay is therefor not a requirement to be the GOAT anymore. I hope you are keeping up with me. Whatever happens, it would be amazing if Roger could beat Nadal in the French Open final. It would basically put Roger’s GOAT status beyond all doubt, although people will always find a reason for him not to be the GOAT. All I know is that it will be intensely satisfying for me as a fan if he beats Nadal in the final this year. I will keep hoping and praying that he does just that.
Ps. I made a mistake yesterday when i said Roger has never played against Fella before. They have played twice, once at Roland Garros and once at Wimbledon. Roger won easily on both occasions. Lets hope he can do the same tomorrow.
May the Fedforce be with you.
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