Tennis Expert & Columnist
Peter Fleming says Rafael Nadal is a tennis 'phenomenon' following his Barcelona Open triumph
Peter Fleming on Rafael Nadal: "It's inhuman to be that dominant, in not just this event, but also Roland Garros, where everybody plays every year. He is equally as dominant. He's a phenomenon"
Last Updated: 29/04/18 9:20pm
Who can stop Rafael Nadal on clay? Peter Fleming says it is up to other players to step up and stop the Spaniard from total domination of the clay season.
Nadal continues to make winning on clay look all too easy as he extended his dominance on the surface with a 6-2 6-1 win over 19-year-old Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday to win his 11th Barcelona Open title.
We always wait till the end of something to say what we should have before the end so I am going to say it now. Thank you @RafaelNadal for everything you have done and continue to do for tennis. As fans we are very fortunate to have lived and watched greatness in real life— @markpetchey (@_markpetchey) April 29, 2018
Nadal, who also won his 11th Monte Carlos Masters title last week, has now won 46 straight sets on clay, extending his own record and he is unbeaten on clay since facing Dominic Thiem in Rome last year.
It was the 77th title overall for Nadal, tying him with John McEnroe for fourth best in the Open Era, and Fleming believes only Austrian Thiem and Juan Martin del Potro are capable of pushing the 16-time Grand Slam champion on his favourite red dirt.
"I think there is a chance that Rafa could get a little bored in a week or two before the French Open, but we really do need one or two guys, whether it's Del Potro or Thiem or somebody to step up and say 'I can do this, I'm ready to compete with him' and raise their game, because the game needs it," Fleming told Sky Sports.
Nadal romps to 11th Barcelona Open title
Rafael Nadal continued his clay-court dominance by collecting a record-extending 11th title in Barcelona on Sunday
Pain is no fun and now that he is out of pain he's enjoying himself and winning is fun.
Peter Fleming on Rafael Nadal
Nadal was forced out of the Australian Open in January with a hip problem, which kept him out of Indian Wells and Miami. But the 31-year-old has made a successful comeback on his favourite surface.
"The only reason he might have retired or felt bad about his life is if he was not physically fit and he was hurting," said Fleming. "Pain is no fun and now that he is out of pain, he's enjoying himself and winning is fun.
"It's inhuman to be that dominant, in not just this event, but also Roland Garros, where everybody plays every year. He is equally as dominant. He's a phenomenon.
"Thiem is the hope, although he hasn't played well this year to look like threatening. Who knows? Maybe he can pull it together. Del Potro is also a good clay-court player as well, so perhaps he can do it because he has certainly been hitting the ball beautifully."
Coverage of the ATP Madrid Open gets underway on Sky Sports Arena on Monday, May 7 from 11am.
Keep up to date with the latest on www.skysports.com/tennis with news, previews, live blogs, reports and expert analysis. On the move? Head to our app for mobile devices and iPad, or follow our Twitter account @SkySportsTennis to join in the conversation.
Tennis updates straight to your phone
How to receive all the latest tennis news straight to your mobile
Never miss the big kick-off or have to deal with interrupted games or low quality streams with a NOW TV Sky Sports Pass. You'll get exclusive coverage of the Premier League, Sky Bet EFL, EFL Cup and loads more starting from just £7.99. No contract.