Who will succeed Nadal as King of Clay
Rafael Nadal has dominated clay-courts unlike any other player in the history of the game. With a record 12 French Open titles to his credit, he is still gunning for more indicating his never-dying hunger.
His win-loss record at Roland Garros stands at a staggering 95-2. He has won a whopping 59 titles on the red dirt. He has fought serious knee injuries in his career and bounced back strongly.
Let us look at some players who could be the worthy heir to Nadal's throne in the future:
The Spaniard who is just 17 years old is coached by the legendary Juan Carlos Ferrero. Alcaraz won the Trieste challenger this year and is the fourth-youngest winner since 2010 to win an ATP challenger title.
He is an aggressive player who is not afraid of going to the net to finish off points. He relies on topspin and can hit winners on both wings.
The Spaniard must work on his serve though to make it a potent weapon. He is currently slugging it out on the ATP Challenger tour and is ranked 189.
The Italian aged 19 rose to fame after stunning Stefanos Tsitsipas in the recently concluded Rome Masters. He also defeated David Goffin in the ongoing French Open. Sinner also triumphed in the Next Gen finals tournament in 2019.
His backhand is very fast and laden with topspin. Sinner also has a solid serve. He needs to work a bit on his movement, which would help him to fine-tune his returns.
The 18-year-old from Italy stunned Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in straight sets each in the Rome Masters. He also won the Forli ATP Challenger title recently.
He is also a former junior world number 1 and won the junior Australian Open title in 2019. He is a hard-hitter of the ball with a strong forehand.
Musetti is also mentally strong and has won several matches from near-impossible situations. His exceptional groundstrokes can leave opponents flat-footed. With his big-serve and one-handed backhand, the Italian is one to watch out for.
The 21-year-old from Norway made headlines after reaching back-to-back semifinals in the Rome Masters and Hamburg Open. He recently bowed out of the French Open after losing to Dominic Thiem in straight sets.
Ruud has an impressive 15-4 record on clay this year. The Norwegian most plays from behind the baseline to control the rallies. With his heavy groundstrokes, quick movement, and a solid backhand, he is tipped to achieve great things on the tour.
The Serb who is aged 21 won his first ATP tour title at the Kitzbuhel Open. His liking for clay took shape when he found three tiles on clay continuously on the futures tour.
He could not replicate that triumph into success in Roland Garros as he lost in the first round this year to Diego Schwartzman. His impressive footwork and all-round consistency give him the edge in long rallies. His down-the-line backhand is one of the best on the tour.
Kecmanovic is ranked 41 now and that would ensure that he features in the leading tournaments across the world.
Once Nadal decides to hang up his boots after a few years, any one of the above five players will stake their claim to be Rafa's successor.
Featured Image Credits - Reuters