Around The Grounds Book

Tennis dominance, Rafael and Serena

Peter Newlinds author of Around the Grounds writes here on tennis dominance following Rafael Nadal's decisive win in the French Open

When those images of Rafael Nadal holding the French Open trophy came through on Monday morning, they felt as familiar as any of the famous landmarks of Paris.

Nadal’s dominance of Roland Garros has been complete it underpins a strong argument that he might be the greatest modern tennis champion of all time. Surely his opponents, who stand with the burnt-orange clay beneath their feet on the other side of the net, must feel that way.Around The Grounds book

Nadal’s tally of 11 French Open titles and singular dominance of a Grand Slam event is matched only by Margaret Court with her array of Australian Open Singles crowns.

The number of Nadal’s victories at Roland Garros might suggest that he is a supreme but one-dimensional champion. However, his career record indicates that he’s way more than just a clay- court specialist. Although Nadal’s relative weakness on grass (he’s won a mere two Wimbledon titles), could be an argument for the limited dimension of his game, his staggering 82.84% career winning percentage allays any suggestion of much, if any, weakness anywhere.

Nadal leads his greatest rival Roger Federer head to head by 23 to 15 and has won six of the nine Grand Slam finals they have played; a pretty good case to suggest that he has the Swiss master covered as well.

Any discussion on the great modern tennis champions must include Serena Williams, who is featured in Around the Grounds.

It was to the Hobart International women’s tournament in January 2007 that Serena arrived after a lay off from injury. Even though it was only eleven short years ago, she was at the time firmly established as the best-known female sports person on the planet.

Despite an unexpected loss in the fourth round to Sybil Bammer of Austria, and somewhat ungraciously complaining in the press conference that ‘people like her only ever play that well against me’, I found Serena hard to dislike. She was just a normal person possessed of unusual talent, someone used to being the queen of her own domain. In Around the Grounds I recount the story of sitting next to her mum Oracene Price in a spare player’s box (in the days when media arrangements were very much makeshift) at the Domain Tennis Centre in Hobart. I don’t think I’ve felt closer to the world of big time tennis stardom and yet more out of place than I did that day. It was difficult to concentrate, as I was slightly star-struck being in close proximity to such star power and on court success. Being near sporting greatness (even their mother) can do that to you.

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