Rafael Nadal

Nadal

He is widely regarded as the greatest clay court player in history, and due to his dominance and success on the surface, he has been titled “The King of Clay”. His evolution into an all court threat has established him as one of the greatest players in tennis history, with some considering Nadal to be the greatest player of all time.

Rafael Nadal was born in Manacor, Mallorca, his parents being Sebastián Nadal and Ana Maria Parera (now divorced). He has a younger sister named María Isabel. His uncle, Miguel Ángel Nadal, is a former professional football player who played for teams like RCD Mallorca, FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team. Nadal is a fan of football teams Real Madrid and RCD Mallorca. On the other hand, his other uncle, Toni Nadal, is a former professional tennis player, who recognized his talent and initiated him in the mysteries of tennis at the age of 3 years old. Toni Nadal is the only coach Rafael had so far.

At the age of 8 years old, Rafael Nadal won a regional tennis championship for children under 12 years, but was also a promising football player. Toni Nadal encouraged his nephew to play with his left hand, a great advantage in tennis, and to do the short forehand with both hands. When he was 12 years old, Nadal won the Spanish and European tennis championships in his age group. He regularly went to tennis workouts courts, as well as football pitches. At some point, his father made him choose between tennis and football so that his studies won’t be abandoned. Rafael chose tennis.

At the age of 14 years old, Spanish Tennis Federation asked the boy to leave Mallorca for Barcelona to continue his training and to increase his performance in tennis. Nadal’s family refused this request. They feared that such a change might affect his education, but also because Toni Nadal said: “You don’t have to go to America or elsewhere to become a good athlete. You can do this at home.” The decision to stay in Mallorca costed him. Rafael received less support from the Federation and his father was forced to bear the costs. In May 2001, he defeated former winner of a Grand Slam tournament, Pat Cash in a friendly match on clay. At the age of 16 years old, Nadal entered the world ranking of the best 50 players. In 2003 he was awarded the prize for the best new player to enter the circuit.

In 2004, Nadal played his first match against world No.1, Roger Federer at the Miami Masters, defeating him in a minimum number of sets. He misses the entire clay season however, including the French Open because of a left ankle fracture. Aged 18 years and 6 months, Nadal became the youngest player to get a win and conquer the title in a Davis Cup final. Defeating world No.2,  Andy Roddick, he helped Spain get a 3-2 victory against the United States. He finished the year ranked 51.

Nadal dominated during the spring clay season. He broke the record of Andre Agassi from 1988 of 23 consecutive matches won by a teenager, managing to win 24 matches. Nadal won the tournament Conde de Godo in Barcelona, as well as the Monte Carlo Masters in 2005 and the Masters of Rome that same year, defeating Roland Garros finalist of 2004, Guillermo Coria.

2008 is one of the best years of Nadal. He won the French Open and Wimbledon, where he beat rival Roger Federer in a match which is considered by some experts the best tennis match of all time. 2010 is undoubtedly the best year of Rafael Nadal, when he won three grand-slam tournaments (Roland Garros, Wimbledon, US Open) and 4 other Masters Series tournaments, regaining its world leadership.

Rafael Nadal started the year 2011 with a win in the tournament of Abu Dhabi, managing to defeat his rival, Roger Federer in the final. In the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, Australian Open, Nadal managed to reach the quarterfinals where he was defeated in three sets by countryman David Ferrer. It was mentioned that the Spaniard was injured in that game and he could not perform at his maximum potential.

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal, No.5 ATP in 2016, won the demonstrative match in Abu Dhabi (UAE), for the third time in his career. In the final, the Spaniard defeated Canadian, Milos Raonic (No.4 ATP). Thus, Nadal won for the third time in his career the demonstrative competition trophy in Abu Dhabi, after those won in 2010 and 2011.

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