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The Top-Performing Nations On Clay In Men’s Tennis

Which nation is, performance-wise, the best on the dirt?

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DIACHRONIC ANALYSIS OF THE BEST-PERFORMING FIVE COUNTRIES

Let’s now look at the top five countries, namely Spain, the USA, Sweden, Argentina, and Czechia, focusing on their performance peaks.

It is worth mentioning the American peak of 1976 with a total of 7.25 points, 4 of them coming from Connors, 1.75 from Solomon, 1.25 from Dibbs, 0.25 from Stockton, and another one the next year peak with 6.25 points, 1.5 from Connors, 0.75 from Solomon, 1 from the late Gerulaitis, 0.75 from Dibbs, 2 from Gottfried and 0.25 from Stockton.

In the mid-‘70s, however, there were two different seasons on clay, one in Europe and one on North America, so that there were a maximum of 20 points available in 1975, almost twice as much as the current availability of 11 points.

The latest peak achieved by Americans was in 1992 with 4.25 points, while the total number of “empty” years is 19, which places in third place behind Spain and France in terms of fewest scoreless seasons.

As for Argentina’s performance peaks, they were achieved in 1977,  a 5.25 soliloquy by Vilas, and in 2004 with 6 points obtained by Gaudio (2), Coria (2.5), Nalbadian (1), Chela (0.25) and Zabaleta (0.25).

It should be noted also that at the Hamburg tournament in 2003 the players from Argentina were able to monopolise the tournament by sweeping all the semi-finals spot, something never witnessed again in a Masters 1000 event played on clay.

Sweden and the Czech Republic dominated the clay seasons of the Eighties, bringing to mind a rendition of the battle of Prague in 1648, a battle never completely won by the Swedes, with the Czech leader Ivan Lendl playing the role of Rudolf von Colloredo, a warrior able to fight back every single time against the Swedish siege. The pinnacle of Swedish grandeur was reached in 1975 with 4.5 points scored by an illustrious Viking named Bjorn and in 1984, when Wilander with 3 points, Sundstrom with 1 point, Edberg and Nystrom with 0.25 points each contributed to the national now bygone pre-eminence. Indeed, the Viking wave – sporting the three crowns flag – retreated after Soderling’s final runs in 2009 and 2010, “the “invincible armada” returned to take over.

In fact, even if we remove Nadal, the man who single-handedly rewrote the history of clay tennis, Spain would still lead the combined rankings anyway, leading the US by 12 points.

The latest Spanish zero in a season on clay happened in 1987, with Spanish tennis players never falling below the 1.25 points achieved in the 1999 and 2000 seasons.

Therefore, the peaks of Spain in the 1998 and 2010 seasons are noteworthy, with 7.25 points out of 11 available, but also in 1975 with 6 points out of 22.

In 2010 Nadal scored 5 ​​points, exactly like in 1975 when Orantes racked up 5.5, while in 1998 there was no standout player, and the point-grabbing appear more diverse. In that season Carlos Moya brought 3 points, Albert Costa and Alex Corretja both took 1.5, while Felix Mantilla had 0.75 and Alberto Berasategui 0.5.

However, at a closer look, since the beginning of the Nadal era Spain has never dropped below the 1.5 points mark from 2015 and 2016, years where the performance of the Manacor juggernaut was plagued by injuries, while many peaks where achieved in previous and ensuing years.

WAITING FOR ALCARAZ: A COMPARISON BETWEEN SPANISH GENERATIONS

All of this forces us to start an evaluation on the performance of the different Spanish generations, while trying to discount the aforementioned Nadal effect.

The aggregate performances of the generations of Spanish tennis players was calculated, obtaining 7 generations, as per the following, with birthyears in brackets:

First generation (1937-1942)Second Generation (1949-1958)Third generation (1962-1968)Fourth Generation (1971-1978)Fifth Generation (1980-1986)Sixth generation (1988-1995)Seventh generation (1996 onwards)
Manuel SantanaManuel OrantesEmilio SanchezCarlos MoyàRafael NadalRoberto Bautista AgutAlejandro Davidovich Fokina
Andrés GimenoJosé HiguerasJuan AguileraSergi BrugueraJuan Carlos FerreroPablo Carreno BustaCarlos Alcaraz Garfia
Juan GisbertFernando LunaCarlos CostaAlex CorretjaDavid FerrerAlbert Ramos VinolasBernabé Zapata
  Francisco ClavetAlbert CostaTommy Robredo Jaume Munar
  Jordi ArreseAlberto BerasateguiFernando Verdasco Pedro Martinez
  Javier SanchezFelix MantillaNicolàs Almagro Nicola Kuhn
  Sergio CasalAlbert PortasPablo Andujar Javier Barranco
  Tomàs CarbonellGalo BlancoFeliciano Lopez  
   Roberto Carretero   

Below the performances by each generation

GenerationsPerformances
First Generation3,25
Second Generation18,75
Third Generation7,5
Fourth Generation34,25
Fifth Generation73
Sixth Generation2,25
Seventh Generation0

It can be seen that, by removing Nadal’s points from the fifth generation, Ferrero, Ferrer, Robredo, Verdasco, Almagro and Andujar would have achieved 17.25 points, which is a very similar performance to that of the second generation, but the former achievement was spread between many more players.

The graph below summarizes these results.

The best Spanish generation in the opinion of the writer was the fourth generation, which expressed 9 players, even without an all-out legend:

CONCLUSION

At the end of this analysis based entirely on numbers, we think is fair to ask ourselves the following question: is it better to have an all-conquering champion with some young guns around him or to have many good players, an even-turfed lawn with a few flowers?

While the media are always in search of a mythical figure to write epics about, a setup that humans tend to be inclined to, the writer is partial to the even lawn concept, because it allows for a whole scene of different players to be at the forefront, as long as the results are consistent and fairly measured. Article and graphics by Andrea Canella; translation by Michele Brusadelli; editing by Tommaso Villa

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Stefanos Tsitsipas downs Sinner; now aims for Third Title in Monte Carlo

Stylish Greek completes comeback win and re-enters the top ten.

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After winning two in a row in 2021-2022, Stefanos Tsitsipas is now in reach of a third title at the prestigious Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, after beating World number two Jannik Sinner in three gruelling sets.

The 25-year-old had to battle hard and come from a break down in the third to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and now plays Casper Ruud in tomorrow’s final. The Greek has had an indifferent start to the year with a 11-6 win-loss record, but today was his first top three victory since the 2022 Cincinatti Masters – where he beat Daniil Medvedev – and ensures a return back into the top ten of the men’s rankings.

Tsitsipas recognised how hard he had to fight and revealed after the match just how satisfied he was of his performance:

“It was tennis at its highest level that I have been able to play. Jannik was an extremely difficult opponent and it can be seen throughout the year so far. He has been very consistent and I could see that throughout today with his game. He is one of the toughest opponents I have faced so far and to find ways when there weren’t that many, I am proud of that. He gave me a very difficult game and the way I overcame it is true excellence.”

Sinner double faulted at 30-40 to gift the break early with the score at one game all. From there, Tsistipas rallied with poise and confidence in a brilliant opening set lasting 44 minutes including a stunning backhand down-the-line winner to open the game when serving at 4-3. He took the first set 6-4 after a tiring 18-shot rally – where both players hit all angles of the court – before Sinner hit a forehand wide.

However, 22-year-old Sinner struck back immediately on his first breakpoint at the start of the second set when he won a close exchange at the net and then took a 3-0 lead.  He later survived a breakback point when 4-2 up and crucially held on for 5-2. He faced more pressure when serving for the set at 5-3 and was taken to deuce but levelled the match at one-set-all on his second set point to give the crowd exactly what they were asking f

Sinner was now in full flow hitting powerfully from the baseline and once again broke early at the start of the final set to take a 3-1 lead. But with the match now entering the third hour he began to tire physically and called for the trainer during the changeover with the score at 4-3.  When the match resumed, he lost the next three games and the Greek had completed a remarkable turnaround, handing his opponent just his second defeat of the season in two hours and forty minutes.

“It helps a lot knowing I have a win like this under my belt. Having a win like this and getting to the levels of tennis again brings a lot of satisfaction to me,” Tsitsipas said. “When there is a lot of work put in each day, these are the type of matches you are aiming for.”

Sinner’s only loss prior to today was against Carlos Alcaraz in Indian Wells semi-finals. He has been the stand out player this year after already winning titles in Rotterdam, the Miami Open, and his maiden Grand Slam in Australia. Despite having won 25 matches overall though, he now trails Tsitsipas 3-6 in their head-to-head rivalry.

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Casper Ruud Reveals Shock After Knocking Out Novak Djokovic In Monte-Carlo

Casper Ruud is into his second career Masters 1000 final after beating Novak Djokovic for the first time.

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Casper Ruud is into his second Masters 1000 final of his career after recording his best ever win by beating Novak Djokovic 6-4 1-6 6-4.

The Norwegian defeated the world number one for the first time in his career as he overcame a mini-comeback from Djokovic to seal his place in the Monte-Carlo final.

Having lost his five previous meetings to Djokovic, Ruud played some fearless tennis under pressure as the eighth seed broke to close out a career-best win.

Speaking after the win Ruud admitted he was in a state of shock and was pleased with the victory, “I am super happy,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“This is a day I will remember for a long time. Beating a World No. 1 is something I have never done and beating Novak is something I have never done. I am very, very happy. I am a little bit in a state of shock right now.”

After achieving the seemingly improbable, Ruud will now look to win his first ever ATP title that’s above a Masters 1000 event when he takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Monte-Carlo final.

That’s a prospect Ruud is looking forward to as he prepares for one final challenge, “There is always one more match in tennis,” the Norwegian explained.

“Tomorrow is going to be a special day, playing a final here in Monte-Carlo. It is a great result but I have been chasing a big title for a few years now and tomorrow I will have another shot at it. I am going to give it my all. Stef is playing well. He is a great player on clay and on other surfaces as well, but I guess clay is maybe where he has had the most success and especially this tournament.

“So it is going to be another tough task, but I am up for it.”

The final will take place at 14:00 BST.

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Rafael Nadal Set For Opening Round Test Against Cobolli In Barcelona

Rafael Nadal will look to make his ATP tour return in Barcelona this week.

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Rafael Nadal is set for his return to tennis in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Nadal has been struggling with injury after being injured again in Brisbane this year.

The tournament in Brisbane was his first tournament back for a year as he suffered a hip injury at the Australian Open last year.

Now Nadal aims to return to competitive action in Barcelona as he has been drawn against Flavio Cobolli in the opening round.

Speaking earlier in the week Nadal was hopeful of a return to the tour in Barcelona, “Excited to be here for a few days before the start of the tournament,” Nadal told the ATP website.

“I’m here to see how it goes… can’t wait to try and play. I’ll let you know. Important to say that I don’t want to confirm I’ll be playing, but I hope so. We’ll see.”

Should Nadal play and win his opening round match then the Spaniard will play fourth seed Alex De Minaur in the second round.

The former world number one has won the title on 12 different occasions but hasn’t won the title since 2021.

Elsewhere in the draw defending champion Carlos Alcaraz will begin against Luca Van Assche or Zhizhen Zhang with the Spaniard projected to meet Borna Coric in the third round.

Alcaraz suffered an injury in Monte-Carlo and will be beginning his clay court campaign in Barcelona.

Also in action in Barcelona are Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.

Main draw action will begin on Monday.

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