Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have all beaten Rafael Nadal on clay
Rafael Nadal is arguably the first name that comes to mind when we talk about claycourt tennis. The Spaniard has an impeccable record on the surface, winning 564 out of 607 matches.
Nadal has several records on claycourt but the most notable of them has got to be his 13 titles at Roland Garros, which is the most any player, male or female, has won at any Grand Slam. He has also won the Monte-Carlo Masters a whopping 11 times and the Italian Open 10 times.
Nadal has lost only 43 matches on claycourt, with 25 players having had the privilege of beating him on the surface. However, only seven of them have won two or more matches against him on the surface.
Let us take a good look at the players who have beaten Rafael Nadal on multiple occasions on clay.
#1. Novak Djokovic- 8
No player has won more matches over Rafael Nadal on clay courts than the current World No. 1. 27 out of 58 matches between the two greats have come on clay, with Nadal leading 19-8.
However, Djokovic has produced some very good performances against the Spaniard on his favorite surface. 2011 was the best year of Djokovic’s career as he beat Nadal in the finals of the Mutua Madrid Open and the Italian Open.
He also ended the King of Clay’s eight-year winning run at the Monte-Carlo Masters by defeating him in the 2013 final.
Djokovic has two wins over Nadal at Roland Garros, with the first coming in 2015 and the second in the semifinals last year. The 34-year-old came back from a set down to beat him in four sets and went on to win the title.
#2. Dominic Thiem – 4
When we talk about players who have challenged Nadal the most on clay, Dominic Thiem makes a pretty strong case for being right at the top of the list.
The Austrian faced Nadal on the surface on 11 occasions and won four matches. Thiem’s first win over the King of Clay came in the semifinals of the 2016 Argentina Open, which he eventually went on to win.
After four successive defeats, the Austrian defeated him in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open. Thiem’s third victory over Nadal came in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Masters in 2018. His fourth and final win over the Spaniard till date came in the semifinals of the 2019 Barcelona Open.
#3. Gaston Gaudio– 3
Gaston Gaudio has had some brilliant results on clay courts, most notably winning at Roland Garros in 2004. The Argentine has also beaten Rafael Nadal thrice, all of them coming on clay.
Gaudio first took on the Spaniard in the last 16 of the Hamburg Masters in 2003 and won 6-2, 6-2. He then beat Nadal in the quarterfinals of the Swedish Open in 2004.
The third meeting between the two took place in the quarterfinals of the Argentina Open in 2005. Nadal bageled Gaudio in the opening set but the latter bounced back to win the next two 6-0, 6-1 to win the match.
The Spaniard beat Gaudio in their next three meetings, the last of which came in the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Masters in 2006.
#4. Fabio Fognini – 3
The Italian has four wins in 17 matches against Rafael Nadal. Three of those have come on clay. Fognini’s first victory over the Spaniard came in the semifinals of the Rio Open in 2015. Nadal started well and took the opening set 6-1. However, the then-fourth seed fought back and won the next two 6-2, 7-5 to reach the final of the tournament, where he lost to David Ferrer.
A few months later, Fognini again beat Nadal in the third round of the Barcelona Open.
The Italian’s third victory over Rafael Nadal was a particularly memorable one as it came in one of the latter’s favorite tournaments, the Monte-Carlo Masters in 2019. Fognini won 6-4, 6-2 to reach the final of the tournament. He beat Dusan Lajovic to win his first Masters 1000 competition.
#5. Andy Murray – 2
Andy Murray has faced Rafael Nadal on nine occasions, winning only twice. Both came in the Scot’s last three meetings against the King of Clay.
Murray’s first win over Nadal on clay came in the final of the 2015 Madrid Masters, where he won 6-3, 6-2 to win the competition for the first time in his career.
The following year, he faced the Spaniard in the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Masters but lost despite being a set up. Their last meeting was in the semifinals of the Mutua Madrid Open in 2016. Murray won 7-5, 6-4 to reach the final of the tournament where he lost to Novak Djokovic in three sets.
#6. Roger Federer – 2
Rafael Nadal has faced Roger Federer 16 times on clay with the Swiss winning just twice. The first came in the final of the 2007 Hamburg Masters, where the then-World No. 1 came back from a set down to win 2-6, 6-2, 6-0.
Federer and Nadal faced each other in the final of the Madrid Masters in 2009. He won 6-4, 6-4 to win his third title in the Spanish capital. However, this was his last victory over the King of Clay on the latter’s favorite surface.
#7. David Ferrer- 2
Rafael Nadal’s compatriot David Ferrer has registered a few good victories over him but only two of those have come on clay out of 22 meetings.
Interestingly, Ferrer won his first meeting against the 21-time Grand Slam champion in 2004 in Stuttgart. He took the opening set 6-3 but Nadal fought back to take the second via a tiebreak. Ferrer won the third 7-5 to win the match.
The Spaniard’s second win over Nadal came in the quarterfinals of the Monte-Carlo Masters in 2014. Ferrer won 7-6(1), 6-4 to reach the semifinals where he lost to eventual champion Stan Wawrinka.