is a Spanish professional tennis player. He is widely regarded as the greatest clay-court player in history, and owing 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.
Let’s find out some facts about him!
1. Rafael “Rafa” Nadal Parera was born 3 June 1986 in Manacor, Balearic Islands, Spain.
2. His father is Sebastián Nadal, a businessman who owns an insurance company, a glass and window company, Vidres Mallorca, and manages his own restaurant, Sa Punta.
3. His mother is Ana María Parera, a housewife.
4. He has a younger sister named María Isabel.
5. His uncle, Miguel Ángel Nadal, is a retired professional footballer, who played for RCD Mallorca, FC Barcelona, and the Spanish national team.
6. Nadal supports football clubs Real Madrid and RCD Mallorca.
7. Recognizing that Nadal had a natural talent for tennis, another uncle, Toni Nadal, a former professional tennis player, introduced him to tennis when he was three years old.
8. At age eight, Nadal won an under-12 regional tennis championship at a time when he was also a promising football player. This made Toni Nadal intensify training, and at that time he encouraged Nadal to play left-handed for a natural advantage on the tennis court, as he noticed Nadal played forehand shots with two hands. This may be due to the fact he is ambidextrous, playing tennis with his left hand, and writing with his right.
9. When Nadal was 12, he won the Spanish and European tennis titles in his age group and was playing tennis and football all the time.
10. Nadal’s father made him choose between football and tennis so that his school work would not deteriorate entirely. Nadal said: “I chose tennis. Football had to stop straight away.”
11. When he was 14, the Spanish tennis federation requested that he leave Mallorca and move to Barcelona to continue his tennis training.
12. Nadal’s family turned down this request, partly because they feared it would hurt his education.
13. The decision to stay home meant that Nadal received less financial support from the federation, instead, Nadal’s father covered the costs.
14. In May 2001, he defeated former Grand Slam tournament champion Pat Cash in a clay-court exhibition match.
15. Nadal turned professional at the age of 15, and participated in two events on the ITF junior circuit.
16. In 2002, at the age of 16, Nadal reached the semifinals of the Boy’s Singles tournament at Wimbledon, in his first ITF junior event.
17. In the same year he helped Spain defeat the USA in the final of the Junior Davis Cup in his second, and final, appearance on the ITF junior circuit.
18. By the age of 17, he beat Roger Federer the first time they played and became the youngest man to reach the third round at Wimbledon since Boris Becker.
19. At 19, Nadal won the French Open the first time he played it, a feat not accomplished in Paris for more than 20 years. He eventually won it the first four times he played at Roland Garros.
20. In 2003, he had won the ATP Newcomer of the Year Award. Early in his career, Nadal became known for his habit of biting the trophies he won.
21. Nadal has won 14 Grand Slam singles titles, the 2008 Olympic gold medal in singles, 28 titles in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events, and 17 ATP World Tour 500 tournaments (a record tied with Roger Federer).
22. He was also a member of the winning Spain Davis Cup team in 2004, 2008, 2009, and 2011.
23. In 2010, he became the seventh player in history and youngest of four in the Open Era to achieve the Career Grand Slam at age 24.
24. He is the second male player, after Andre Agassi, to complete the singles Career Golden Slam. In 2011, Nadal was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.
25. The left-hander is the sixth player in the Open Era to reach more than 100 finals on the ATP World Tour.
26. Nadal and Mats Wilander are the only two male players in history who have won at least two Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces—hard court, grass, and clay.
27. By winning the 2014 French Open, Nadal became the third player to win a single Grand Slam tournament nine times (Martina Navratilova 9, Margaret Court 11) and the first to win at least one Grand Slam tournament for ten consecutive years, breaking the record of eight consecutive years previously shared by Björn Borg, Pete Sampras, and Roger Federer.
28. Nadal holds the record after winning his eighth straight Monte-Carlo Masters in 2012 and is the only player in the open era to achieve such a feat.
29. Nadal is the only male player in tennis history to win one Grand Slam and Masters 1000 title for ten consecutive years from 2005–2014.
30. He equalled Guillermo Vilas’s all-time record of 49 clay court titles by winning the Barcelona Open in 2016.
31. 128036 Rafaelnadal is a main belt asteroid discovered in 2003 at the Observatorio Astronómico de Mallorca and named after Nadal.
32. Nadal took part in Thailand’s “A Million Trees for the King” project, planting a tree in honour of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on a visit to Hua Hin during his Thailand Open 2010.
33. Nadal lived with his parents and younger sister Maria Isabel in a five-story apartment building in their hometown of Manacor, Mallorca.
34. In June 2009, Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, and then The New York Times, reported that his parents, Ana Maria and Sebastian, had separated. This news came after weeks of speculation in Internet posts and message boards over Nadal’s personal issues as the cause of his setback.
35. Nadal has revealed himself to be agnostic.
36. As a young boy, he would run home from school to watch Goku in his favorite Japanese anime, Dragon Ball. CNN released an article about Nadal’s childhood inspiration, and called him “the Dragon Ball of tennis” owing to his unorthodox style “from another planet”.
37. In addition to tennis and football, Nadal enjoys golf and also poker.
38. In April 2014 he played the world’s number 1 female poker player, Vanessa Selbst, in a poker game in Monaco.
39. Nadal’s autobiography, Rafa (Hyperion, 2012, ISBN 1401310923), written with assistance from John Carlin, was published in August 2011.