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WHO ARE AUSTRALIA'S BEST CURRENT CLAY COURT PLAYERS?



Some may think seeing an Aussie go deep at the French Open is as likely as being served a can of VB in the pristine bars of Roland Garros. 


However, Australians do have a tendency to surprise on the surface. Barty won her first slam on it, Pat Rafter made his first slam semi and of course, Sammy Stosur had multiple impressive results.


But who out of the current crop of players could do well on the clay in Paris?


We’ve looked at the stats and recent results to identify our current Top 3 men and women on the surface.  


Men


3. Thanasi Kokkinakis

Clay record career: 61%

Clay record 2024: 64%

French best: 3rd round


There’s something about clay that works for Thanasi. He has achieved his best slam result on the surface with two appearances in the 3rd round of the French including 2023 where he beat Dan Evans and Stan Wawrinka. His 50% win record at the slam is the best of any current Aussie.


He has won three challenger titles on clay including this year in Sarasota. His nine wins on the surface in 2024 is more than any other Australian player.  Although he doesn’t have as many consistent results on the tour, he always finds a way to battle through qualifying of Masters events and has picked up a few wins. Another run like last year is entirely possible. 


2. Alexei Popyrin

Clay record career: 59%

Clay record 2024: 33%

French best: 2nd round


Alexei is a player who has shown flashes of brilliance on the red dirt. This year, Alexei defeated defending champion Andrei Rublev at Monte Carlo before falling to fellow Aussie Alex De Minaur. 


He has beaten Rublev, Sinner and Auger-Aliassime on the surface and took out Stan Wawrinka to win the Umag title in Croatia last year. 


Add in a Round of 16 in Rome, Challenger titles on European clay, and a junior slam win at the French and he clearly likes the surface. His Roland Garros record goes against him at 17%, so he’ll be hoping for a good draw and a good run next week. 


1. Alex De Minaur

Clay record career: 55%

Clay record 2024: 60%

French best: 2nd round


Despite not having a good record at the French Open (30% and has never been beyond the second round), Alex is clearly showing the best form on clay.


This year he made the quarter-finals of Monte Carlo, the round of 16 in Rome and took out Rafael Nadal in Barcelona. In the past, he has also made the semi-finals of Barcelona and Lyon. His career record may not be as strong as others but he has played more matches at a higher level.


If an Aussie is going to make the second week at Roland Garros, it’ll be De Minaur.  


Others to note: Jordan Thompson (current Aussie no.2) has made the French Open 3rd round and made the quarters of Houston this year. While O’Connell (66%) and Duckworth (64%) have great career records on clay but most have come at non-ATP level.


Women 


3. Astra Sharma

Clay record: 64%

Clay record 2024: 33%

French best: 2nd round


Sharma is the only current female player to have a clay court title. Astra won Charleston in 2021 and had previously made the final of Bogota in 2019. Her career clay court record is impressive and she has notched up a couple of wins at Roland Garros. 


Although not in the same form as a few years ago, she did qualify for Charleston and make the 3rd round there this year. She also won a 125k tournament on the surface in Bucharest late last year. Although she will have to play through qualifying, Astra could cause a surprise.


2. Alja Tomljanovic

Clay record: 59%

Clay record: 50%

French best: 4th round


Alja is the only current Aussie to ever make the round of 16 at the French Open.  Due to her comeback from injury, she has barely played on the surface in recent times. However, she did win the 125k Florianopolis in November and last week won a match in Parma before retiring in the second round.


In the past, she has made the final of Rabat and the quarters of Madrid so there’s no doubt she can play on clay. The question is whether she will be back to full fitness to go far?


1. Daria Saville

Clay record career: 54%

Clay record 2024: 54%

French best: 3rd round


Daris is one of the few Aussies to make the 3rd round at the French, something she has done on two occasions. Saville is an all-court player so it’s no surprise to see her getting some solid results on the surface.


In the past, she has made the final of Strasbourg, the semi-finals of Rome, and the quarters of Madrid. While in the last year, she has had solid wins on the surface and made the semi-finals of Hamburg. With a good draw, she may be our best female chance at Roland Garros. 


Others to note: Olivia Gadecki has a great record on clay (63%) and has notched up five wins on the surface this year. While 18yo Taylah Preston has had a couple of wins in her first proper campaign on clay. 


So will we see an Aussie go deep at the French, it still might be a stretch but we’ve proved time and time again, that nothing is impossible.


Good luck to all the Aussies at Roland Garros across the next 3 weeks of qualifying and main draw action.

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