Best Male Clay Court Players

21st February 2019
The surface of a tennis court matters a lot. Even though a great player will always be able to adapt to the terrain due to his qualities, there are certain tennis players who have become legends on clay.

Playing on clay courts isn’t easy, but there have always been tennis players who have managed to master this dusty surface. Next, we’ll analyze the best male clay court players.

Nadal, the king of the clay court

In the first place, we have to highlight the Spanish player, Rafael Nadal. We can say that he’s the best clay tennis player of the 21st century, thanks to his 53 titles, won on this surface. In addition, 10 of them have been Grand Slam, which has managed to surpass Guillermo Vilas.

Despite the long seven months of the last season, where the Spaniard was injured, Nadal is yet to consider his retirement. Nadal wants to continue adding to his titles.

Rafael Nadal is one of the best male clay-court player.

The domain of Guillermo Vilas

Guillermo Vilas is, without a doubt, the best Argentine tennis player of all time. He won 49 titles on clay courts, a record that was far exceeded by the aforementioned Rafael Nadal.

In addition to all of his titles, he’s the creator of Big Willy, a blow that consists of returning the ball below the legs.

Guillermo Vilas the best Argentine tennis player.

The versatility of Bjorn Borg

If we talk about clay courts, we can’t forget Bjorn Borg. A former Swedish tennis player who shone in the history of tennis during his time as a player between 1973 and 1981. During these years, he achieved titles as important as five Wimbledon, six Roland Garros, and two Masters, before retiring at 26 years of age.

Bjorn Borg has declared his admiration for Rafael Nadal on several occasions.

“Nadal is the best player that has ever existed on clay courts.”
– Bjorn Borg –

The constancy of Thomas Muster

Another great player on clay courts was Thomas Muster, the best Austrian tennis player of all time. In his time, he was known as `The King of the Earth ‘, thanks to Muster winning 44 titles, 40 of these on clay courts.

Thomas Muster the best Austrian tennis player.

During February 1996, he managed to become number one in the ATP ranking. Moreover, he accumulated 40 consecutive unbeaten matches, which leads him to third in the ranking, after Rafael Nadal and Guillermo Vilas.

The thorn of Manuel Orantes

A tennis player who didn’t have the same luck was Manolo Orantes. He first stepped on a tennis court at the age of seven and was the winner of 33 tournaments during his career. He was known for his backhand game and his devastating drive and, although he won all kinds of tournaments on clay courts, he couldn’t win against Roland Garros. On this subject, he has made statements such as:

“I’ve won all the clay-court tournaments in the world, but I’ve never won a Roland Garros.”
– Manolo Orantes –

Currently, Orantes admires Rafael Nadal, especially when he plays on a clay court. For him, he’s the best player on this surface, along with Borg.

“Bjorn Borg always took me to the limit, he was the Nadal of my time.”
– Manolo Orantes –

Other great players from the clay courts

There are more tennis players who hold other titles on a clay court. But, it’s impossible to talk about this surface without mentioning other names such as Mats Wilander, who was champion of Roland Garros on three occasions and lost two finals.

Coria is a former Argentine professional tennis player who was nicknamed “El Mago”. He was rated among the top ten during three consecutive seasons. These seasons were in 2003, 2004 and 2005, where he reached a maximum number three ranking during 2004 and 2005. The surface of brick dust is the one that best suited his game.

As of 2006, his tennis performance dropped, and he would never recover. Finally, he announced his retirement in April 2009 with only 27 years worth of career behind him.

The Spanish player, David Ferrer, has won 13 clay-court titles. Five of them were in the ATP World Tour 500 category and the remaining eight in the ATP World Tour 250.

Novak Djokovic is the winner of 14 titles on clay courts, including a Grand Slam (Roland Garros 2016).

The best player of all time, Roger Federer, has won 11 titles on clay courts, among which highlights a Grand Slam (Roland Garros 2011).

The new promise

Finally, the young Austrian tennis player, Dominic Thiem is the likely successor of Rafael Nadal on clay courts.

An important fact about this Austrian player is that since his triumphant presentation on the circuit in 2015, nobody has won more tournaments than him on a clay court (Nice, Umag and Gstaad 2015, Buenos Aires and Nice 2016 and Rio de Janeiro 2017).

Dominic Thiem doesn’t seem to want to stop growing in his tennis to progress in his career. His season on clay courts in 2017 has been more than good, although braked in part, by the still strong Nadal and Djokovic. Everything points to the fact that he can settle in among the best clay-court players in tennis.