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Rafael Nadal

Sports | 9-14 yrs | Reading Pod

Rafael Nadal Profile and Biography

Rafael Nadal (June 3rd, 1986 – ) often referred to as Rafa by his fans is a professional tennis player and world champion. Rafael is a clay-court specialist as his nickname ‘The King of Clay’ might suggest with 7 French Open grand slam titles under his belt. Currently ranked #3 by the ATP (as of July 2012), Nadal has also won the Australian and US open once and has twice won Wimbledon.

Rafael Nadal Parera was born on the Spanish island of Majorca (pronounced ma-yorka) to a businessman named Sabastian and a restaurant manager named Ana Maria. He is also the nephew of retired professional footballer Miguel Angel Nadal who played for FC Barcelona, RCD Mallorca, and the Spanish National Team. However he was introduced to the sport by another one of his uncles, Toni Nadal at age 3.

When Nadal was 8, he beat boys much older than him to win the under 12 regional tennis championship. The left-handed champion was also an avid footballer at the time but when his schoolwork began to take a backseat to sports, his father made him choose between the two. Rafa chose tennis and turned pro by 15.

Rafael matched Boris Becker’s record of being the youngest man to reach round 3 at Wimbledon at age 17 (Becker went on to win and still is the youngest person to win at Wimbledon). Nadal stormed Roland Garros in 2005 when he became the first person in 20 years to win The French Open on their first attempt. He went on to win the title 4 years in a row and then two times after that which is how he got the moniker ‘The King of Clay.

In the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, Nadal beat Chile’s Fernando Gonzalez to clinch the gold medal and became the first male player seeded in the top 5 world rankings to win a gold medal. The question on everybody’s mind is will he be be able to it again at the London Games in 2012?

Can you find out how the surface of the court in tennis changes the game? The three common surfaces for courts are grass, clay, and hard courts.