Nadal, The King of Clay, doesn't want to see more hard-court tourneys

by: Matt Cronin | March 30, 2017

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Rafael Nadal hopes that the ATP tour will keep many clay-court events on the calendar. (AP)

Rafael Nadal has reached the semifinal in Miami, but says he does not want more hard-court events played during the year. 

Some of the South American clay-court events are talking about switching to hard courts to attract a better field, as the Acapulco event has done. But Nadal said having fewer clay-court events would mean fewer clay-court players to play them.

"It’s obvious that if every day is less clay-court tournaments, that there is less strong players on clay," said Nadal. "That's the normal thing. If there is 80 percent of the tournaments on hard, is normal that the best players of the world are hard-court specialists, not clay-court specialists. So if we still putting more tournaments on hard, then no one top player will be a specialist on clay.

"These tournaments, for sure, will never have a top player because the top players are always on hard and they want to play on his surface. That didn't happen in the past, when there was more tournaments on clay, that there [were] a lot of great players on clay—stars like [Juan Carlos] Ferrero, [Guillermo] Coria, Carlos Moya. Situation change because ATP is pushing more and more the hard-court tournaments.”

The 30-year-old Nadal has won nine Grand Slams titles on clay at the French Open, and five other majors—one at the Australian Open on hard courts, two at Wimbledon on grass and two at the U.S. Open on hard courts. The Spanish left-hander has dominated the European clay courts and also been successful in South America, winning Buenos Aires in 2015, Rio de Janeiro in 2014 and Acapulco in 2013 before it switched to hard courts.

While saying that he was not looking to give himself an advantage, Nadal would like to see more events on clay— especially the ATP Tour Finals, for which the top eight qualify.

“It's obvious that I am not talking because I'm a better player on clay than on hard, because when these changes probably will happen, I will not be here around,” he said. “So I am talking about the benefit of the sport in general. I think it's the same thing, that I'm playing the Masters Cup [ATP Tour Finals] every single year on hard.

"I don't understand that I qualified for 11 or 12 years on Masters Cup, [but] I had to play all the Masters Cup on hard when you qualified on grass, clay, hard and indoor.  If you put more tournaments on hard, every time you have less tournaments on clay. For me, [it] is not fair enough.”

Nadal has won 69 titles, most of them on clay courts, and has not won a hard-court title since 2014, when he captured Doha.

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