Rafael Nadal is the ruler of the clay-season, considered the greatest tennis player in the history of tennis on clay-courts. In his career he has won 59 titles on clay, losing only eight finals in 16 years. He holds the record of titles at the Roland Garros (with 12 titles he is the tennis player to have won the same Slam more times), 11 titles at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters and 11 titles at the Godó Tournament in Barcellon.
Nonetheless, Rafa has suffered three sensational defeats on clay-courts during his 16-year career. In 2009, at the height of an extraordinary phase of his amazing career, where he seemed unbeatable, especially on clay-courts, Nadal was defeated in two sets in the final of the Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open by Roger Federer 6-4, 6-4.
It was mid-May and nobody imagined what would happen a few weeks later... We move to Roland Garros in 2015. It was June 3rd: the fourth round saw Nadal face Novak Djokovic. The feelings from the beginning of the season were not positive for the Spaniard.
For the first time in five years, he did not seem unbeatable, not even on the clay of the Philippe Chatrier court. Djokovic dominated the match, beating Nadal for the first time at the French Open and becoming the second man to defeat the Spaniard in the Parisian Slam, winning with the final score of 7-5, 6-3, 6-1.
That was perhaps Nadal's worst birthday. The worst and perhaps, the most sensational defeat of Nadal on clay-courts will remain the fourth round of the French Open 2009. Nobody, not even the dearest of Robin Soderling's relatives, could have predicted the Swede's victory against Nadal at Roland Garros.
Rafa was at the peak of his career: now competitive on every surface, it seemed impossible to beat him in Paris. Soderling was the first player to succeed in this goal, perhaps contributing decisively to the victory of Roger Federer's title and Grand Slam career. Soderling won with the final score of 6-2, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6.