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Martin Rogers

The Monday Slice: Is Nadal the best ever on clay?

Busted Racquet

FIRST SERVE

It doesn't matter how hard you try, barring injury, miracle or alien invasion, it is simply impossible to imagine any scenario other than Rafael Nadal lifting aloft the French Open trophy on June 7.

The world No. 1 has never lost a match at Roland Garros, compiling four straight titles and a 28-0 record. Last year he dismantled Roger Federer, many people's pick as the greatest player of all time, in three one-sided sets.

Last weekend's final of the Monte Carlo Masters, which Nadal has now won five times in a row, merely confirmed his utter dominance on clay.

Even playing below his best and being forced to complete two matches on Friday, he cruised to yet another title. This week he goes for another five-in-a-row, in Barcelona.

It seems that the only meaningful question remaining about Nadal and clay is whether he is already the best ever on that surface.

Bjorn Borg won the French Open six times and has been regarded as history's eminent clay-courter for the past couple of decades.

But does Nadal need to take his tally of French titles equal to or even past Borg to be regarded in the same company?

Many experts such as Jim Courier and Pat Cash have insisted Nadal is the finest performer on clay we have ever seen, and it is hard to argue.

He is still only 22-years-old and no one is getting any closer on clay. As things stand, seven, eight or even more consecutive French titles is certainly possible.

DROP SHOT

Andy Roddick missed the Monte Carlo Masters last week, but he had a pretty decent excuse. Roddick and swimwear model Brooklyn Decker tied the knot in Austin, Texas, with Sir Elton John serenading the couple as they walked down the aisle. Nice.

USE YOUR FREQUENT FLIER MILES

The beautiful Catalan city of Barcelona is where it's at this week, as the men's tour continues its red clay swing. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are all taking a week off but there are plenty of clay court specialists on hand, including a certain Mr. Nadal, to provide what is always an entertaining event.

CLEAN WINNER

Chinese star Zheng Jie took an emotional trip to her home province of Sichuan last week, on the one-year anniversary of the tragic earthquake that devastated the region. The popular 25-year-old donated her prize money from reaching the 2008 Wimbledon semifinal to the earthquake appeal and continues to serve as an ambassador highlighting the ongoing plight of the survivors.

LAST WEEK'S RESULTS

Rolex Masters, Monte Carlo: Rafael Nadal
Family Circle Cup, Charleston: Sabine Lisicki
Ladies Open, Barcelona: Roberta Vinci

THIS WEEK'S PREDICTIONS

Banco Sabadell Open, Barcelona: Rafael Nadal
Fed Cup semifinals: Italy 2 Russia 3, Czech Republic 4 United States 1

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