- Rafael Nadal
- Tennis Player
- Full Name
- Rafael Nadal
- The King of Clay
Spanish-born Rafael Nadal is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional tennis players of all time, completing the career Grand Slam by age 24—becoming the youngest in history to achieve the feat.
SynopsisBorn in Spain on June 3, 1986, Rafael Nadal is a Spanish professional tennis player who has been ranked among the world's Top 5 since 2003. Nadal is only the second male player to achieve the Career Golden Slam and the first to win seven French Open titles. He won the Roland Garros for four consecutive years, from 2005 to 2008, and went on to win Wimbledon 2008 against tennis star Roger Federer. In 2009, Nadal won the Australian Open, and came back to win his second Wimbledon in 2010, as well as his first U.S. Open and fifth French Open title. The following year, a No. 1-ranked Nadal lost his top ranking as well as Wimbledon 2011 to Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic. Also in 2011, he won his sixth French Open, followed by a seventh French Open victory in 2012. In the 2012 Wimbledon, a No. 3-ranked Nadal lost to Czech player Lukas Rosol in the second round—a match that some commentators labeled as one of the biggest upsets in tennis history. In June 2013, Nadal won his eighth French Open title against David Ferrer.
Early YearsRafael Nadal was born in Majorca, Spain, on June 3, 1986. When he was 3 years old, his uncle, Toni Nadal, a former professional tennis player, started working with him, seeing an aptitude for the sport in young Rafael.
At the age of 8, Nadal won an under-12 regional tennis championship, giving Toni Nadal the incentive to step up his training. Toni noticed at the time that Rafael played his forehand shots with two hands, so he encouraged him to play left-handed, thinking it could give Rafael an edge on the court.
When Nadal was just 12 years old, he won the Spanish and European tennis titles in his age group, and at age 15, he turned pro and started playing on the junior circuit.
A Young ProfessionalAt the age of 16, in his first ITF junior event, Nadal made it to the semifinals of the Boys' Singles tournament at Wimbledon. By age 17, he became the youngest man to reach the third round at Wimbledon since Boris Becker.
At the age of 19, in 2005, Nadal won the French Open the first time he played it, and his world ranking went to No. 3. Nadal won 11 singles titles that year, eight of which were on clay, and he was soon dubbed the "King of Clay."
Hitting His StrideNadal went on to win the next three French Opens. In 2006, after winning the French Open— despite both shoulder and foot injuries—he won four other titles. The following year, he won again at Roland Garros and took home five other titles. Nadal poured it on in 2008, winning the French Open again, in addition to winning Wimbledon—where he beat longtime rival Roger Federer in the longest final in Wimbledon history—gold at the Beijing Olympics, and five other titles. After Wimbledon, Nadal's winning streak stood at a career-best 32 matches.
Since 2008, despite being occasionally hampered by injuries, Nadal has been one of the superstars of the tennis world, winning 15 titles and hitting No. 1 in the world-ranking twice (in August 2008 and again in June 2010). He won the Australian Open in 2009 and came back to win his second Wimbledon in 2010, as well as his first U.S. Open and fifth French Open title. The following year, a No. 1-ranked Nadal lost his top ranking as well as Wimbledon 2011 to Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic. In June 2012, however, Nadal defeated top-ranked Novak Djokovic to win his record seventh French Open title—a feat never accomplished before in men's tennis. That same month, a No. 3-ranked Nadal lost to Czech player Lukas Rosol in the Wimbledon semfinals—Rosol's fifth Grand Slam win, and a match that some commentators labeled one the biggest upsets in tennis history.
In June 2013, Nadal won his eighth French Open title against fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3—marking his eight French Open victory in nine attempts. "I never like to compare years, but it's true that this year means something very special for me," Nadal said after the match, in an interview with ESPN. "Five months ago nobody of my team dreamed about one comeback like this because we thought that [was] going to be impossible. But here we are today, and that's really fantastic and incredible."
Later that same month, Nadal lost in the first round at Wimbledon to Belgian player Steve Darcis. A shock to tennis fans who expected a strong performance from the Spanish player, Nadal lost the match in three sets, by 7-6(4), 7-6(8), 6-4.
Nadal is only the second male player in tennis history to complete the Career Golden Slam—winning the French, Australian and U.S. Opens; Wimbledon; and the Olympic Gold medal. Additionally, by 2011, he had taken the Spanish Davis Cup team to victory four times (2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011).
In 2013, the future of Nadal's career became the subject of much speculation. He won the French Open that year, but he made a poor showing at Wimbledon. At Wimbledon, Nadal was eliminated in the first round of competition. He seemed to be back on the upswing, however, at the U.S. Open. He defeated Novak Djokovic to win the men's singles title.
In June 2014, Nadal won his ninth French Open title against Novak Djokovic, 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4, earning him 14 Grand Slam titles. To date, Roger Federer holds the lead with with 17. In August of the same year, the reigning U.S. Open champ withdrew from the 2014 Grand Slam competition citing a wrist injury.