Between 2005 and 2007, Rafa won 81 clay court matches to establish himself as the King of Clay. But that was only the beginning. Last year he collected his 11th Roland Garros crown to add to the 11th Monte Carlo title and the 11th Barcelona trophy he had gathered in the previous couple of months. Now we get to sit back and wait to see if he can make it a round dozen at all three venues. You can never get tired of watching Rafa winning.
That is another good thing about the clay – the matches have a rhythm all their own. They are no less intense, no less fierce, than matches on other surfaces but they… well, they do go on a bit. This is not blink-and-you-miss-it tennis; this is a game where the points are crafted with care, the shots are selected with precision and the winners are arrived at with thought and patience.
As a result, you can pop out and put the kettle on or answer the door to the pesky neighbour who wants to borrow your lawn mower safe in the knowledge that by the time you get back to your seat, you will not have missed too much.
And if it rains, they keep playing until such time as they are paddling around in gum boots and oilskins. Clay court tennis is not a sport for the faint hearted.