Who rules on clay ahead of RG?

A look at the men's stats leaders on clay leading into Roland-Garros 2019.

Guido Pella Monte-CarloGuido Pella. ©Chryslene Caillaud / FFT
 - Reem Abulleil

No surface tests the body of a tennis player like clay and there are those who love to slide and grind on it, and others who prefer to keep their socks white rather than orange.

Rafael Nadal has been ruling the surface since he won Roland-Garros on debut in 2005, and he has since amassed a record 11 titles in Paris, and has picked up a total of 58 trophies on the red dirt. His winning percentage on clay is a stunning 91.7 and he comes to the Parisian tournament fresh off of winning a ninth Rome crown.

But the King of Clay is not the only one to have experienced success on the surface this season. Here’s a look at some of the stats leaders on clay this year on the men’s tour.

Pella on top

Argentinian Guido Pella hit a career-high ranking of 21 earlier this month and it's mostly due to his great form on clay this season.

The 29-year-old lefty tops the leaderboard for most matches won on clay in 2019, amassing 20 victories from 28 clashes.

During the South American golden swing in February, Pella won the title in Sao Paulo, made the final in Cordoba and the semis in Buenos Aires. On European clay, Pella reached the quarter-finals in Monte-Carlo and Munich back-to-back.

Chilean 22-year-old Cristian Garin, who spent time practicing at the Rafa Nadal Academy over the past few years, is next on the clay-court list with 19 victories, including titles runs in Houston and Munich in the build-up to Roland-Garros.

Djokovic's efficiency

He may not have played as many matches on clay as others on tour but Djokovic tops the charts in winning percentage on clay (for players who contested 10 or matches). He picked up 10 wins from 12 matches on the red dirt and will be looking to complete a non-calendar-year Grand Slam for a second time in his career at Roland-Garros this fortnight.

Italy's Matteo Berrettini won Budapest and made the final in Munich in back-to-back weeks, hitting a career-high ranking of 31 earlier this month.

How the top are shaping up

Four of the world's top-15 have posted 10 or more wins on clay this season - Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Djokovic and Dominic Thiem. Roger Federer has played just five matches on clay since 2016 and makes his return to Roland-Garros for the first time in four years.

Fabio Fognini is enjoying a breakthrough season on clay, having lifted the trophy at the Masters 1000 event in Monte-Carlo last month.

Sixth-ranked Tsitsipas won Estoril, reached the Madrid final and the Rome semis in consecutive weeks and comes to Roland-Garros as a serious contender.