French Open 2012: Five Greatest Clay-Court Tennis Players
With the French Open well underway in Paris, Rafael Nadal will attempt to make history by winning a record seventh French Open titles. Should Nadal win at Roland Garros he will solidify his position as the greatest male clay court player of all time.
While Nadal may be the undisputed "King of Clay" of this generation, many have dominated on the surface before him.
Here is a look at the five greatest male clay court players of all time.
1) Rafael Nadal
The current world No. 2 and former world No. 1, Rafael Nadal is currently bidding to capture a record seventh French Open title in Paris. He already holds a record tying six French Open titles, (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2011) defeating one of the greatest tennis players of all time in four of the finals, Roger Federer. He hold 35 career singles titles on clay courts and held a record 81-match winning streak on the surface between April 2005 and May 2007.
2) Bjorn Borg
Before retiring at the age of 26, Bjorn Borg dominated menâs tennis and won six French Open singles titles (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981), a record tied with Nadal. He won a total of 30 tournaments on the surface. He is one of only four players in the Open era to win Wimbledon and the French Open in the same year, a feat he accomplished for three consecutive years.
3) Ivan Lendl
Considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Ivan Lendl won three French Open titles (1984, 1986, 1987) while facing tough competition from players such as Mats Wilander, John McEnroe, and Bjorn Borg. Of his 94 career singles titles, 28 of those were on the clay surface.
4) Mats Wilander
A former world No. 1, Mats Wilander won 10 Grand Slam titles, including three French Open titles (1982, 1985, 1988). He won the French Open on his first attempt in 1982, an achievement accomplished by only Nadal. He holds clay court wins over Guillermo Vilas, Yannick Noah, and Ivan Lendl, and finished his career with 20 clay court titles.
5) Gustavo Kuerten
Gustavo Kuerten won all three of his career Grand Slams at the French Open in 1997, 2000, and 2001. While he didnât make it to the finals of any other Grand Slam, he was a dominant force in Paris. Despite facing injuries throughout his career, Kuerten managed to win 14 career titles on clay and reach the world No. 1 ranking in 2000.