Originally Posted by timnz
Do we view Federer's losses to Nadal on Clay (being the majority of matches they have played against each other) in a more positive light? After all Federer lost to the best player of all time on the surface! Hence, he isn't doing at all bad playing Nadal hard on all but one of the matches (I am only aware of the French Open 2008 being the only time that Nadal completely overwhelmed Federer on that surface). Keep in mind that Clay is Federer's worst surface. So playing the best clay player of all time on your worst surface - not so bad if you lose. And to get a couple of wins - well that's just cream.
My feeling is that it is exactly the same case with Borg and McEnroe - if the majority of matches they had played had been on clay (as it turned on, they didn't even play one). McEnroe might have just 1 victory on clay against Borg at most.
But there are also questions on how good Nadal was when he was starting to beat Federer on clay. Nadal was a teen when he was defeating Federer on red clay. My opinion is that Nadal is a superior player on clay now to his teen years. I think he has a better serve, backhand, volley and he hits harder. So how do we judge Federer's performances against Nadal in the early days when he would on occasion defeat Nadal on clay?
As far as the great clay players of all time here are some candidates in no order.
Rosewall-Rosewall won a ton of French Pros, many of them on red clay at Roland Garros. He also won the French Championship (now the French Open) as an amateur and the first French Open in 1968 over Rod Laver. And you can add a lot of other top clay tournaments that he won.