Originally Posted by monfed
As far as clay itself goes, let's face it, Ralph never played anyone of the caliber of Guga/Borg. The closest he came to playing a hardcore claycourter was Coria who almost beat him in that Rome final.
Why the hell do people keep bringing up this myth of the "hardcore claycourter" that is Coria in respect to Nadal?
Nadal was 16 when he first met Coria(lost in 2) and Coria, by that time, had made quite a lot of clay finals and the next year, he would become RG finalist.
When they had their two enormous clashes in the spring of 2005, Nadal was 18 and Coria was an established claycourter(with something like 13 clay finals ,including a couple of clay MS finals and 8 clay titles to his name) and had made RG final the year before. In contrast, Nadal had exactly 3 clay titles and 3 clay finals, all in 250 events(Sopot,Acapulco,Costa do Suipe).
So your reasoning is backwards, it wasn't Coria that was pushing Nadal, it was Nadal who was pushing Coria since, on paper, Coria was the major favorite for those clashes in MC and Rome 2005.
As for their future clashes, one can only speculate, but does it look good when a RG finalist is taken out twice at MS level by a 18 year old? I think not. Not to mention that, as much as I like Coria, his clay prowess overall is quite overrated. Coria, in 2004-2005(some of his best years), lost on clay(his best surface) to people such as:
-Gaudio(at a time when Gaston was ranked 44th) and this is with Coria leading 2 sets to nil in RG final.
-Federer twice(THAT Federer, who sucks on clay and bla bla bla).
-Florian Mayer(95th player in the world back then).
-Calleri(99th player of the world).
If we wanna go further, in 2006, then he starts losing on clay to people like Sabau(165), Vik(74), Djokovic twice(once when Novak was ranked 71 and another time when he was ranked 36), Acasuso(32), Ramirez Hidalgo twice(93), Gremelmayer(132), Almagro(57), Di Mauro(113).
When he meets Nadal again in 2006 in MC the score is 6-2,6-1 for Nadal.
I don't know if Nadal broke him in 2005, but after 2005 was a mess. But even so, Coria, in his prime, on his best surface, got beat up twice by guys that barely made the first 100 in the world, a young Federer twice(whose worst surface was always clay), Davydenko and choked away a slam final.
And this is the guy that was supposed to challenge Nadal as Rafa started to grow as a claycourter(which he did after 2005)? Come on. I know some of you try to disparage Nadal's clay record at every turn but what you don't seem to get is that Nadal was a phenomenon. Nadal was beating RG champions when he was 16, RG finalist when he was 18, he won RG on his first try. He would be outstanding in any clay era you put him in.