Nadal a hard opponent on the hard court

Nadal ready for the hard courts of the U.S. Open

Rafael Nadal

Tennis fans know Rafael Nadal as perhaps the pre-eminent clay court player of all time. His 12 French Open titles are testament to that.

But a closer look at his stats reveals another fact: He’s not too shabby on hard courts, either.

Indeed, as the 33-year-old Spaniard readies to compete on the hard courts of USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, N.Y., in the 2019 U.S. Open, which airs for the next fortnight on ESPN and ESPN2 beginning Monday, Aug. 26, it’s apparent that he’s not exactly coming in as an underdog, having won this tournament in 2010, 2013 and 2017.

Further, in 24 career matches on the surface, the man known as Rafa has posted a winning percentage of 87.5 and a set winning percentage of 81.3. Of the top 100 players on the ATP Tour, that puts him behind only one, Novak Djokovic, widely considered to be among the great all-time hard court players.

He came into last year’s U.S. Open as the defending champion, only to experience frustration, disappointment and pain in his semifinal match against Juan Martin del Potro, as tendinitis in his right knee forced him to retire after losing the first two sets. The Spaniard del Potro would then go on to lose to Djokovic in the final, giving the Serb his third U.S. Open title.

Nadal will begin pursuit of his fourth U.S. Open championship and 19th Grand Slam victory this week against a field including Djokovic, del Potro, Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and other top men’s players.

Full name: Rafael Nadal Parera

Birth date: June 3, 1986

Birthplace: Manacor, Balearic Islands, Spain

Height/weight: 6 feet 1 inch/187 pounds

Residence: Manacor

Family ties: Engaged to long-time girlfriend María Francisca Perello

Career singles record: 956–196

Honors and achievements: Australian Open champion (2009); 12-time French Open champion (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019); two-time Wimbledon champion (2008, 2010); three-time U.S. Open champion (2010, 2013, 2017); Olympic singles gold medal (2008); Olympic doubles gold medal (2016)

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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