Ten titles, seventy career titles, and 50 titles on just the one playing surface. All of these statistical highs have been encapsulated finely within one tournament for Rafael Nadal, after his win at the Monte Carlo Masters on Sunday against compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
As successful as the Mallorcan has been on clay, over the course of tennis’ long history there have been several others who have arguably been just as dominant on the surface.
Here’s a look at the four players – aside of Nadal – who have won the most number of titles on what is arguably a tough playing arena to come to terms with.
Long before the era of Nadal arose in the horizon of the sport, there was another southpaw in the Argentine, who dominated the clay circuit. Between winning his first ATP singles title in Buenos Aires in 1973 to his last title in Kiztbuhel in 1983, Vilas amassed 49 title hauls on clay, including two Majors – at the 1977 French and US Opens – on the surface.
Vilas’ feat also included a winning streak of 53 consecutive matches on the surface and a total of eight titles in Buenos Aires alone – the third-best title collection after Nadal and Roger Federer. Additionally, Vilas also boasts of a standalone record of most number of matches played and won on clay – 678 wins in a total of 878 matches played.
Another lefthander, the Austrian was the first to be given the sobriquet of ‘King of Clay’ following his exploits on the slower playing surface that saw him win 40 titles, including his lone win at a Major – at the 1995 French Open.
Muster’s successes on clay include him featuring third, behind Vilas and Manuel Orantes in terms of matches played and won on clay, with a total of 426 match wins in 553 matches. Likewise, the 49-year-old Austrian is also fourth-placed – again following Vilas, Orantes and Nadal – in the all-time list of most finals played on clay, with 45 finals played in his 26-year career that included a near 11-year long retirement from professional tennis, from 1999 to 2010.
The Swede is best known for his 11 Majors, six of which came at the French Open alone. But, as far as Borg’s career achievements are concerned, this is just the tip of the iceberg especially since he uniquely dominated on clay and grass courts simultaneously.
Borg’s record on clay is staggering and in many ways, only second to Nadal. The 60-year-old Swede, who won a total of 30 titles on clay, boasts of 10 consecutive titles on the surface, behind the Spaniard’s 13, and the second-most win percentage on the surface – 86.3% to Nadal’s 91.5%. Borg’s 46 consecutive wins is also the third-best winning streak after Nadal and Vilas.
The third lefty to be featured in this list, the Spaniard is tied with Borg for most number of titles won on the dirt. Orantes’ collection of 30 trophies came in 61 finals, with a total of 539 matches won in 699 contested.
Orantes’ best year on the ATP circuit was in 1975, when he swept eight titles, all of which came on clay, including at the Monte Carlo Masters and the US Open. His win in Forest Hills that year also summed up the entirety of his wins at the Majors.