Rafa Nadal has knocked Roger Federer from the world number one spot -- and he's the 'clear cut' favourite to win the French Open next month for the 11th time

Getty ImagesRafa Nadal is on an incredible run.
  • Rafa Nadal won the Italian Open in Rome and has taken the world number one spot from arch rival Roger Federer.
  • Nadal has 23 wins against just two losses this season, three ATP titles for the year, and takes exceptional clay form into French Open – the second major of the year, which starts this week.
  • Nadal is a “clear-cut favourite” to win an 11th French Open title.

Rafa Nadal has had an eventful seven days.

The Spanish tennis player began the week by finding out arch rival Roger Federer had leapfrogged his way to the world number one spot, despite the fact he had not played for two months.

Nadal, in contrast to Federer, has been active and wildly successful throughout the clay season. He even added the Italian Open title to his trophy cabinet when he dominated the field in Rome, defeating Alexander Zverev in the tournament final on Sunday.

The victory, his third title on clay this season, pushed him up to top spot – nudging Federer back down the ATP ladder.

An ATP ranking hiccup aside, Nadal’s preparations for the French Open – the second major of the year – have bordered on perfect.

His season record so far is 23 wins against just two losses (a 92% success rate), he set the record for most consecutive sets won on a single surface (clay) at the Madrid Open (going 5o sets unbeaten), and is enjoying exceptional form that very few, if any, can compete with.

Nadal is the “clear-cut favourite” to win an 11th French Open title

Rafa NadalGetty ImagesRafa Nadal won the Italian Open on Sunday.

If that were not impressive enough, then consider this: Nadal has played 81 French Open matches since his Roland-Garros debut in 2005 – and has only ever lost twice.

Since 2005, Nadal has won a record-smashing 10 French Open titles and only ever suffered defeat against Robin Söderling in the fourth round in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in the 2015 quarterfinal.

That’s some feat, especially when you consider that Nadal has beaten Stanislas Wawrinka twice, Andy Murray twice, Lleyton Hewitt three times, Roger Federer five times, and Novak Djokovic six times during that run.

Nadal is called the “King of Clay” for good reason – and former six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker sees Nadal as “the clear-cut favourite” to extend his dominance on the soft surface at the 2018 French Open, which starts on May 27.

Becker told CNN: “There are a couple of others coming around the block, but I wouldn’t even name them because in my eyes if Rafa stays healthy, injury free, I don’t see anybody taking it but him.”

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