Rafael Nadal's Biography

Rafael Nadal Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal


  • Born
    03 June 1986
  • Died
  • Sex
  • Nationality
  • Citizen

What is Rafael Nadal Famous For?

'Rafa', as he is popularly known among his enormous fan following, Rafael Nadal is a tennis player from Spain, who began playing when he was just three years old. With an innate talent in both football and tennis, he chose the latter as his career. He began playing in junior tennis championships, and moved on to professional tennis, with the 'ATP' tournaments. Known mainly for his prowess on the clay court, he was on the number one spot for quite some time, before suffering from serious knee injuries that affected his game. He shares the record of bagging two Grand Slam titles on different kinds of courts, with former Swedish player Mats Wilander. He is also the first tennis player to have won Grand Slam tournaments for ten years at a stretch. The earlier record was held by Roger Federer, Björn Borg, and Pete Sampras, for having won the titles for eight years at a go. Nadal is most famous for his on-field rivalry with Swiss player Roger Federer, Serbian Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray from Scotland. This professional player from Spain lays has 14 wins at the ‘Grand Slam’ singles, 4 ‘Davis Cup’ titles, an ‘Olympic’ gold medal, and numerous ‘ATP’ trophies to his credit.

Family, Early years and Achievements

Rafael Nadal Parera was born on June 3, 1986 in the town of Manacor on the Spanish island of Mallorca. His parents, Ana Maria and Sebastian Nadal, later had a second child, Isabel. From a young age, Rafael was known as Rafa.

Sebastian owned a glass company called Vidres Mallorca. His brothers, Toni and Miguel, were world-class athletes. Toni was a pro tennis player who had some success in Spanish tournaments. Miguel, a big-time soccer star, was a swift, strong defender who played for FC Barcelona and logged nearly a decade as a member of Spain's World Cup team from 1994 to 2002. 

Rafa picked up a racket and began taking lessons from his Uncle Toni around the age of four. He developed into a star by his eighth birthday when he won a 12-and-under tournament. But with a famous soccer-playing uncle, Rafa saw his future on the pitch, not behind the baseline. He was a terrific goal-scorer for his age. He was faster and more coordinated than other boys, and he never seemed to get tired.

On the tennis court, Rafa was energetic but skinny. He hit right-handed but preferred to use two hands on both his forehand and backhand. Around the age of 10, Rafa began to think less about soccer and gravitate more to tennis. Uncle Toni stepped in at this point and made some important changes in Rafa's game.

First, he turned Rafa into a one-handed hitter. Toni knew the Nadal men usually began beefing up around the age of 15 or 16. Assuming Rafa followed suit, he would no longer need to play a two-handed forehand. Second, and more significantly, Uncle Toni encouraged Rafa to play left-handed. By the age of 12, he was entirely proficient as a southpaw. In 1998, he won national and European titles in his age group.

Between his tennis and soccer commitments, there was little time for Rafa to get his schoolwork done. Sebastian asked him to make a choice. With all apologies to Uncle Miguel, Rafa went with tennis. Things began happening quickly after that. In 2000, the Spanish Tennis Federation asked that Rafa move to Barcelona so he could he could be mainstreamed into the federation's development program. Rafa's parents refused. They worried that he would lose his passion for school. They also believed that he had the talent to become a world-class player without leaving home.

It was often a challenge to find appropriate practice partners and opponents for Rafa. But the family muddled through and the teenager kept getting better and better. Rafa turned pro in 2001 at the age of 14. The plan was to stay close to home as he earned his spurs playing at the Futures and Challengers levels. 

Rafa won his first match as a pro at the 2001 Seville Challenger. The following year, he took his first Masters-level match at a tournament in his hometown. He defeated Ramon Delgado in the opening round, becoming just the ninth player in the Open Era to win a match before his 16th birthday. His world ranking after the victory was 762. In all that year, Rafa played nine events on the Futures circuit, winning six tournaments, everyone in Spain. He also reached the semifinals of a Challengers event in Barcelona and reached the semis of the junior tournament at Wimbledon.

Tennis career

Despite enduring shoulder and foot injuries, Nadal won his second straight French Open and added four more titles in 2006. 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 rival Roger Federer in the longest final in Wimbledon history — as well as gold at the Beijing Olympics. After Wimbledon, Nadal's winning streak stood at a career-best 32 matches.

With his powerful topspin-heavy shots, speed and mental toughness, Nadal reigned as one of the "Big Four" of men's tennis (along with Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray) for the next several years. He took over as the world's No. 1 in 2008, and won his first Australian Open in 2009. In 2010, he was triumphant at the French Open and Wimbledon, and his subsequent win at the U.S. Open made him just the second men's player to achieve the career Golden Slam — victories at all four majors, as well as Olympic gold.

The following year, Nadal led the Spanish Davis Cup team to victory for the fourth time, but he surrendered his No. 1 ranking after losing to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final. He gained some revenge by defeating the Serbian star at Roland Garros the following spring to claim a record seventh French Open singles crown. However, Nadal followed with a surprising second-round loss to Czech player Lukas Rosol at Wimbledon, a match some commentators labeled as one of the biggest upsets in tennis history. Afterward, Nadal announced he was withdrawing from the 2012 Summer Olympics due to knee tendinitis, an injury that knocked him out of action for several months.

In June 2013, Nadal won his eighth French Open title by defeating fellow Spaniard David Ferrer in straight sets. "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 month at Wimbledon, Nadal lost in straight sets in the first round to Belgium's Steve Darcis. It was a shock to tennis fans who expected a strong performance from the Spanish player, leading to speculation about the state of his health and overall game. But Nadal was back on the upswing by the U.S. Open, where he defeated Djokovic to win his second championship at the tournament. The win helped propel Nadal back to the top spot in the world that October.

In June 2014, Nadal won his ninth French Open championship by topping Djokovic in four sets. It was his 14th Grand Slam title, tying him with Pete Sampras for second all-time behind the 17 won by Federer. However, he withdrew from the 2014 U.S. Open in August, citing a wrist injury, and played a limited schedule for the remainder of the year.

Nadal advanced through the field at the 2015 Australian Open, but his physical capabilities appeared compromised when he fell to hard-hitting Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. He then suffered a stunning quarterfinal loss to Djokovic at the French Open, his first defeat at the tournament since 2009 and just the second overall of his career. 

Nadal advanced through the field at the 2015 Australian Open, but his physical capabilities appeared compromised when he fell to hard-hitting Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. He then suffered a stunning quarterfinal loss to Djokovic at the French Open, his first defeat at the tournament since 2009 and just the second overall of his career.

After winning the 2015 Mercedes Cup in Germany, Nadal stumbled in a second-round loss to Dustin Brown at Wimbledon. He then fell to Fabio Fognini in the third round of the U.S. Open, snapping his streak of 10 consecutive years with at least one Grand Slam title. 

The 2016 season brought more mixed results for the hard-hitting Spaniard. After suffering a first-round loss at the Australian Open in January, he rebounded to win titles in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. However, Nadal's attempts to play through a nagging wrist injury took its toll, and he was forced to pull out of his favorite tournament, the French Open, after two rounds. At the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Nadal took home the gold in with Marc Lopez in men's doubles. 

In 2017, Nadal faced off against Roger Federer in the finals at the Australian Open, but was ultimately defeated in five sets. After his win, Federer, who came back from a series of injuries, paid tribute to Nadal: “I’d like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback, too,” Federer said. “I don’t think either one of us thought we would be in the final at the Australian Open this year. I am happy for you. I would’ve been happy to lose to you tonight, too, really.”

Nadal rebounded to win the 2017 French Open for a record-setting 10th time, "La Decima" in Spanish. After defeating Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland at Roland Garros, he continued his winning streak at the 2017 U.S. Open. Nadal's victory over Kevin Anderson of South Africa was his 16th Grand Slam title, returning him to the number one ranking. After his U.S. Open win, Nadal spoke of the ups and downs of his comeback. “For me personally, it’s just unbelievable what happened to me this year after a couple of years with some troubles: injuries, moments playing not good,” he said. “From the beginning of the season, it has been very emotional.”

Injuries struck again at the beginning of 2018, forcing Nadal to retire from his quarterfinal match vs. Marin Cilic at the Australian Open, but he returned to top form by the start of the clay-court season, claiming his 400th career win on the surface en route to his 11th career title at the Barcelona Open in April.

The 2018 French Open brought more of the same from its most decorated player, with Nadal making mincemeat of his competition. The final against No. 7 seed Dominic Thiem presented an interesting matchup, as the big-hitting Austrian had defeated Nadal on clay a month earlier, but the Spaniard rolled to a straight set victory for a remarkable 11th French singles crown and his 17th overall Grand Slam championship.

Nadal advanced to the semifinals of the following two Grand Slams, but was forced from the latter with a knee problem and then underwent ankle surgery in November. He recovered to make a run to the 2019 Australian Open final, and then overcame more nagging injuries to reestablish his clay-court dominance that spring, culminating with a four-set win over Thiem for his 12th French Open crown.

Less known facts about Nadal

Rafael Nadal doesn’t smoke.

He drinks alcohol sometimes.

Toni Nadal, Rafa’s coach and Uncle turned him into a left handed player by making him follow a strict left handed practice schedule. His Uncle believed that by doing this, Nadal would always carry an element of surprise over his opponents.

Nadal has a very peculiar superstition; he crosses the lines of the court with his right foot only and never steps on them.

After arriving on the court he places his bag on the bench and turns his tournament ID face up.

Asteroid, “128036 Rafaelnadal”, has been named after him. This Asteroid is currently located between Mars and Jupiter.

Nadal is the quickest player to reach 400 wins by playing less than 500 matches.

Nadal won 24 consecutive matches as a teenager in 2005, the longest winning streak by a teenager in open era.

Nadal has the longest winning streak on a single surface in the open era. He won 81 back to back matches on clay courts before losing to Roger Federer in the finals of Masters Series Hamburg.

Nadal has never broken a tennis racket in anger or frustration. He thinks that doing this would be an insult to all the people who have to buy a tennis racket to play the sport.

Rafael Nadal is the only player to have won at least one tier-1, tier-2 and tier-3 tournament yearly for 10 straight years from 2005-2014.

Nadal won two matches which have unbelievably lasted the same duration of 5 hours and 14 minutes. One match was against Guilermo Coria in 2005 Rome Masters Final and the other was against Fernando Verdasco at the Australian Open 2009.

Rafael Nadal is the only player to win consecutive Grand Slams on three different surfaces. He achieved this record in 2010.

He is the only player to win 4 French Open titles in a row.

Nadal is so afraid of darkness that he sleeps with the lights on.

Personal Life and Legacy

In 2007, this sportsman established the ‘Fundación Rafa Nadal’ with the objective of helping children and young adults. Apart from contributing to the development in his hometown, he has also made it a point to visit India's Anantapur city, Andhra Pradesh.

He has assisted the ‘Vicente Ferrer Foundation’, in their 'Anantapur Educational Center project', and has also started a tennis academy for poor children, calling it the ‘Anantapur Sports Village’.

This player is known for his contribution to social and environmental causes, especially his participation in 'A Million Trees for the King' programme launched in Thailand, which was aimed at planting trees to commemorate King Bhumibol.

In 2011, 'Rafa', an autobiography of the sportsman was published, with help from distinguished journalist, John Carlin.

This tennis player enjoys football, golf and poker, and has also played against famous poker player Vanessa Selbst in a game held in Monaco.

Famous Quotes of Rafael Nadal

“I have no sense of humor about losing.”

“Enduring means accepting. Accepting things as they are and not as you would wish them to be, and then looking ahead, not behind.”

“The first point is always important, more so in a Wimbledon final.”

“Si falta pasión no se encuentra la victoria”

“People sometimes exaggerate this business of humility. It’s a question simply of knowing who you are, where you are, and that the world will continue exactly as it is without you.”

“I think the doubts are good in life. The people who don’t have doubts I think only two things: arrogance or not intelligence.” 

“However great your dedication, you never win anything on your own.”

“The rest of the family looked on with a bemusement that, in the case of Rafa’s mother, occasionally gave way to anger. His father, Sebastián, had his misgivings. His uncle Rafael wondered sometimes whether Toni was pushing his nephew too hard. His godfather, his mother’s brother, Juan, went so far as to say that what Toni was doing to the child amounted to “mental cruelty.” But Toni was hard on Rafa because he knew Rafa could take it and would eventually thrive. He would not have applied the same principles, he insists, with a weaker child. The sense that perhaps he might have been right was what stopped the more doubtful members of his family from outright rebellion. One who did not doubt Toni was Miguel Ángel, the professional football player. Another disciple of the endurance principle, in which he believes with almost as much reverence as Toni himself, Miguel Ángel says that success for the elite sportsman rests on the capacity “to suffer,” even to enjoy suffering. “It means learning to accept that if you have to train two hours, you train two hours; if you have to train five, you train five; if you have to repeat an exercise fifty thousand times, you do it. That’s what separates the champions from the merely talented. And it’s all directly related to the winners’ mentality; at the same time as you are demonstrating endurance, your head becomes stronger.”

“So there was fun and magic in my relationship with Toni, even if the prevailing mood when we trained was stony and severe.”

“That’s why just about every top professional athlete has been laid low by injury, sometimes a career-ending injury. There was a moment in my career when I seriously wondered whether I’d be able to continue competing at the top level. I play through pain much of the time, but I think all elite sports people do. All except Federer, at any rate. I’ve had to push and mold my body to adapt it to cope with the repetitive muscular stress that tennis forces on you, but he just seems to have been born to play the game. His physique—his DNA—seems perfectly adapted to tennis, rendering him immune to the injuries the rest of us are doomed to put up with.”

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