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Why is Rafa Nadal so extraordinary on the French Open clay?


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The path to another Rafael Nadal victory in the French Open - he'll be up to 11 titles on the clay in Paris - has widened after a shock defeat for Novak Djokovic which meant the latter was unable to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final since 2016.

The former World No 1 suffered a shock defeat to world number 72 Marco Cecchinato in the last eight at Roland Garros with the final score at 6-3 7-6 1-6 7-6.

Tennis analyst and 1993 French Open men's doubles champion Luke Jensen joined Joe on Off The Ball to discuss the result and the implications for the Djoker. 

Jensen also explained the factors behind Nadal's sheer dominance on clay compared to other surfaces where he is successful but not to this extent: "Physically he's a beast. The reason he's so good on this surface is it's slower. And these are big courts. If you look at the centre court at Roland Garros, it's big. You can move right, left and you can defend deep in the court. 

"So it's hard to get the ball by him without an effort. And of course, there is no one in the history of the game on this surface who has been so dominant."

Barring injury or illness, Jensen added that he can't see a scenario that does not involve Nadal winning an 11th French Open to extend his daunting record at the tournament.

In the women's singles, Jensen touched on a mouthwatering match-up between bitter rivals Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova that didn't end up happening at the weekend as Williams pulled out due to injury which would have seen the US star look to extend what is a one-sided match-up.

Tensions have flared again between the two Grand Slam winners due to comments by Sharapova in her book, and Jensen feels the Russian former Wimbledon champ would have been better served "shutting up" given how one-sided the rivalry is in Williams' favour. 


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