Who is Rafael Nadal?
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 11 French Open grand slam titles under his belt.
Where did he grow up?
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.
Nadal and Football
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.
Which titles has he won?
He has 17 Grand Slam titles under his belt and is currently ranked #1 by the ATP. Nadal has won 11 French Opens, an Australian Open and 3 US Opens along with 2 Wimbledon titles.
Rivalry between Nadal and Federer
Nadal and Roger Federer have a long standing rivalry which has spanned their careers. They have played against each other 38 times and have fought for the ATP #1 ranking.
What records does he hold?
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’.
Nadal at Olympics
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.