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While Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer saw the birth of their rivalry on French Open red clay, tennis fans often wonder how they would match up against other clay-court champions of the past.
How would Federer perform against other red-clay specialists? Could someone from another era defeat Nadal?
It is impossible to simulate fair conditions and technology, but we will play this out at 2013 Roland Garros with dry conditions and the slower Dunlop balls from 2012. Players from other eras may be projected with modern rackets and adaptations as we can fairly hypothesize.
Feel free to debate these particulars.
The following is a playoff format to test these champions.
There will be four top seeds determined by French Open success. The top half of the draw will feature No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal and No. 4 seed Ivan Lendl (who barely gets the nod over Mats Wilander). The bottom half of the draw will include No. 2 seed Bjorn Borg and No. 3 seed Gustavo Kuerten.
The top 16 champions from the time of Borg were chosen, but a few champions were left out. Those that made the cut were included because of other clay-court credentials in their careers.
All of the matchups below were randomly drawn, so this is only one of many possible brackets.
1. '08 Rafael Nadal vs. '92 Jim Courier
'95 Thomas Muster vs. '83 Yannick Noah
'88 Mats Wilander vs. '99 Andre Agassi
4. '86 Ivan Lendl vs. '94 Sergi Bruguera
3. '01 Gustavo Kuerten vs. '77 Guillermo Vilas
'89 Michael Chang vs. '90 Andres Gomez
'09 Roger Federer vs. '03 Juan Carlos Ferrero
2. '80 Bjorn Borg vs. '96 Yevgeny Kafelnikov
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