Rafael Nadal owns men's tennis on clay these days.
After he cruised through another match on Thursday against Mikhail Youzhny in the third round of the Madrid Open, one thing is crystal clear: Not only will Nadal win this tournament, but he's well on his way to winning his eighth French Open title as well.
Nadal has been utterly dominant on clay surfaces since coming back in February from his seven-month absence while recovering from a knee injury.
According to Tennis Connected, he's only lost two matches in 24—both of which were finals appearances and one of which occurred in his first tournament back:
Tennis Connected @TennisConnected
Nadal is 22-2 on clay this year with 3 titles and 2 finals. He's 27-2 overall for 2013. #ATP2013-5-8 15:02:56
While Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer both took early exits, Nadal is getting back into a groove. His reckless style of play is always fun to watch, but his form is superb and his body is responding in ways we haven't seen in years.
Anna Makarova on Twitter captured a phenomenal image of Rafa's physique:
Since losing to Djokovic in the final at Monte Carlo, Nadal has barely broken a sweat, winning seven matches in a row in straight sets—all of which were contested on clay. In those seven matches, he's only failed to save break points six times.
The Spaniard simply cannot be stopped right now—not on clay.
His physical conditioning is superb (not that it's been tested lately) and his shot-making is superb. He's getting anywhere he wants to on the court, thanks to his instincts, athleticism and speed.
Nadal is back to his old form again, folks. It's clear his body has benefited immensely from the long break, and his skill has never been questioned.
Nadal's time to rise back up in the men's tennis ranks has come once again. He's finally healthy again, and at the age of 26, he still has plenty of good years ahead of him.
He'll make a huge statement this year by dominating the courts at Roland Garros to win another French Open—his fourth in a row and eighth in nine years.
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