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RAFA’S RECORD OF CLAY

Rafael Nadal is unquestionably the king of clay.

The “rey” of clay, so to speak.

Back on May 29, 2006, as documented in the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.TennisHistoryBook.com), Rafa put himself in the “clay” record books with a win over Robin Soderling, as document below. Soderling, ironically, would play another historic match with Nadal three years later at Roland Garros, handing the Spanish lefty his first career French Open loss in the fourth round.

2006 – Rafael Nadal wins his 54th consecutive match on a clay court, breaking the Open era record set by Guillermo Vilas, defeating Robin Soderling of Sweden 6-2, 7-5, 6-1 in the first round of the French Open in Paris. Nadal is honored for his achievement with an on-court ceremony featuring Christian Bimes, the President of the French Tennis Federation, and Vilas himself, who won 53 straight matches on clay in 1977. Says Nadal of the record, “Obviously, the record is something just extra. It’s something you want. You want to go for it, but the first round in a Grand Slam tournament is always difficult. The first round in any tournament is difficult, but in a Grand Slam, there’s a little more pressure.“ Vilas was not even aware that he held the record for most consecutive clay court victories until weeks before the record was broken. He was, however, well aware of his Open-era records for consecutive victories, regardless of surface (50) and for tournaments won in a year (16) – all accomplished in 1977. Says Vilas, “I’m not sad to lose the minor record, but I’ll be mad if he breaks the others.” Nadal’s streak begins in April of 2005 at the Monte Carlo Open. The streak ends at 81 on May 20, 2007, when Roger Federer beats Nadal in the final of Hamburg, Germany.

25 Years Ago – Answer my question! The question, jerk!

It was 25 years ago on November 4, 1984 that John McEnroe performed one of his most famous temper tantrums. It was against Anders Jarryd in the semifinals of the Stockholm Open in Sweden where McEnroe loudly asked the chair umpire to “Ask my question. The question, jerk.” The official summary of the event is excerpted below from the book ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY ($19.95, New Chapter Press, www.Tennishistorybook.com) and the following two YouTube links provide some visual effect as well seen here  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j0eqZKTjpk and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v16tKIAddmQ

1984 – John McEnroe conducts one of his worst on-court tirades of his career, slamming a ball into the stands, calling the chair umpire a jerk and slamming a soda can with his racquet during a change-over in a 1-6, 7-6, 6-2 semifinal win over Anders Jarryd at the Stockholm Open in Sweden. Says McEnroe, who is fined $2,100, “I’m mentally tired at the moment. That’s one of the reasons I lost my temper.” Says Jarryd, “It is very difficult to play against someone who behaves like McEnroe.” In the second game of the match, McEnroe hits a fan with a ball, giving him his first penalty of the match. Following the infraction, he goes on to lose the next 15 points of the match. Leading 4-2 in the second set, McEnroe exclaims to the chair umpire “Answer my question! The question, jerk!” causing for a point penalty for verbal abuse. After losing his serve for 4-3 moments later, McEnroe then slams a soda can with his racquet on the changeover, resulting in a game penalty.