ATP Players

Rafael Nadal

ES Spain

#2

Single Ranking
Date: 
Tuesday, June 3, 1986
Birthplace: 
Manacor, Mallorca
Residence: 
Manacor, Mallorca
Height: 
6'1'' (185 cm)
Weight: 
188 lbs (85 kg)
Plays: 
Left-handed
Turned pro: 
2001

Rafael Nadal Parera (born June 3, 1986, in Manacor, Mallorca) is a Spanish professional tennis player. As of July 2005, he is ranked No. 2 in the world. He is a three-time Grand Slam champion, having won three consecutive French Open singles titles (2005-07), and has twice been a runner-up at Wimbledon (2006-07). Nadal is undefeated in his career at the French Open, having won all 21 matches he has played en route to his three championships. He also holds the longest winning streak among male players on a single surface in the open era. From April 2005 to May 2007, he won a record 81 consecutive clay court matches, before being defeated by World Number One Roger Federer in the 2007 Hamburg Masters final.

Personal life

Nadal was born in Manacor, Mallorca to Sebastián Nadal and Ana María Parera; he also has a younger sister named María Isabel Nadal Parera. His father owns a restaurant and a glass-making business. His uncle, Miguel Ángel, is a retired footballer who played for RCD Mallorca, FC Barcelona, and the Spanish national team. To this day, Nadal remains a supporter of RCD Mallorca, as well as Real Madrid. His other uncle, Toni, is his current coach and introduced him to the sport when Nadal was three years old.

Nadal is good friends will fellow Mallorcan Carlos Moyà, regularly using him as a practice partner. The venerable Moyà has also acted as a mentor to Nadal in his still burgeoning career. Off-court, Nadal relaxes by playing Playstation and fishing. 

Career

Early years

Although Nadal plays left-handed, he is naturally right-handed. When he was younger, his coach, Toni Nadal, decided that his two-handed backhand would benefit from a strong right arm, so he taught Rafael to play with his left.

It was not until Nadal was 12 that he decided to pursue a career in tennis instead of football. In May 2001, when Nadal was 14 years old, tennis great Pat Cash played a clay-court exhibition match against him. Cash, who was originally scheduled to play Boris Becker, was reluctant to play against Nadal, taking this rearranged match as an offense. Cash lost the game by a close margin.

2002 - 2004

In 2002, the 15-year-old Nadal won his first ATP match, defeating Ramon Delgado in Mallorca to become the ninth player in the open era to win an ATP match before his 16th birthday.

In 2003, Nadal became the second-youngest player to be ranked among the world's top 100 singles players. He finished the year in the top 50, winning two Challenger titles. At his Wimbledon debut, Nadal, then 17, became the youngest male player to reach the third round since 16-year-old Boris Becker in 1984.

In 2004, Nadal was forced to miss most of the clay-court season, including the French Open, due to a stress fracture in his left ankle.

2005

2005 was Nadal's breakthrough year. At the Australian Open, he reached the fourth round and pushed the eventual runner-up, Lleyton Hewitt, to five sets. Two months later, he reached the final of the Miami Masters tournament, and despite being two points away from victory in straight sets, he was defeated in five sets by the world's number one player, Roger Federer.

Shifting to the clay court season, Nadal won two ATP Masters Series events in Monte Carlo and Rome. At one point in the year, Nadal won 24 consecutive matches, the longest winning streak of any teenager in the open era, topping Andre Agassi's run of 23 matches in 1988. By May 2005, Nadal had reached the top 5 in the world rankings, becoming the youngest player to break into the top 10 since Andrei Medvedev in 1993.

Nadal entered his first French Open among the favorites. He beat two of France's local hopes, Sébastien Grosjean and Richard Gasquet, to reach the semifinals. On his 19th birthday, he defeated Federer in the semifinals, preventing the Swiss from potentially achieving a career Grand Slam. Two days later, he became the fourth-youngest French Open champion in the open era, defeating Argentina's Mariano Puerta in the final. He became the seventh player to win a Grand Slam in his first appearance at the event and the first since Agassi at the 1995 Australian Open, and he is one of only two people to win at Roland Garros on their first attempt, the first being Mats Wilander in 1982. He also became the first teenager to win a Grand Slam singles title since Pete Sampras won the 1990 U.S. Open at age 19. Nadal is the first teenager to win at least six titles in a year since Agassi in 1988 at the age of 18.

Three days after his victory in Paris, his winning streak was snapped on the grass courts of Halle, Germany, where he was beaten by German Alexander Waske in the first round. He suffered another disappointment at Wimbledon, where he was eliminated in the second round by Gilles Müller of Luxembourg.

In July, at age 19 years, 1 month, and 22 days, Nadal became the third teenager to reach World No. 2 in the history of the ATP computer rankings, which began in 1973, joining Boris Becker (age 18 years, 9 months, and 17 days) and Björn Borg (age 18 years, 10 months, and 2 days) as the only teenagers to be ranked No. 2.

Nadal started his 2005 hardcourt season by defeating Agassi in the final of the Canada Masters. Nadal was seeded second at the U.S. Open but was eliminated in the third round by American James Blake in four sets. Despite the loss, his second seeding and third round performance were both career highs. After the U.S. Open, Nadal won two more hard court tournaments. In September, he defeated Guillermo Coria in the final of the China Open in Beijing, and in October, he won his fourth Masters Series event, defeating Ivan Ljubi?i? in five sets in the final of the Madrid Masters. He then suffered a foot injury that kept him out of the Tennis Masters Cup in 2005 and the start of 2006, causing him to miss the Australian Open. Overall, Nadal matched world No. 1 Roger Federer's standard in ATP titles won in a single season, eleven, and Masters Series events won, four. He won 79 matches in 2005, second only to Federer's 81.

2006

The fierce rivalry between Nadal and Roger Federer continued into 2006. In March 2006, Nadal handed Federer his first loss of the year at the final in Dubai, winning 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Nadal defeated Federer again at the Monte Carlo Masters by a score of 6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 7-6.

The two squared off again in the Rome Masters final. There, it seemed as though Federer might finally defeat his nemesis, thereby ending Nadal's streak of consecutive clay court matches. However, Nadal fought off two match points and won 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6.

Nadal broke Argentinian Guillermo Vilas's 29-year record of 53 consecutive clay court match victories after defeating Robin Soderling in the first round of the 2006 French Open. Following the victory, Nadal was presented with a trophy containing the cross section of the construction of a clay court. Vilas was on hand for the ceremony, although Vilas has refused to acknowledge Nadal's feat as more impressive than his own (which was accomplished in a single season).

At the French Open, Nadal reached the final for the second consecutive year, and squared off against the world's No. 1 player, Roger Federer, in a hotly anticipated match. For Federer, the French Open was the missing link in a career Grand Slam and in holding all four majors simultaneously. For Nadal, the task of defending his French Open title, as well as maintaining a dominant winning record against Federer, was enormous, something that no other player has accomplished thus far. Though Nadal was the favorite based on his clay court ability, Federer was the overwhelming favorite with the raucous French crowd. Everyone expected a highly competitive match, much like the ones they had played in the last three Masters Series tournaments. Yet, the first two sets were hardly competitive, as the rivals traded 6-1 sets. Nadal steamrolled over Federer through the third set and most of the fourth. Federer finally broke Nadal's serve deep in the fourth set as he was serving for the match and forced a tiebreak, which Nadal won. With the win, he became the first player to defeat Federer in a Grand Slam final.

With an undefeated 2006 clay court season, Nadal firmly stamped himself as the dominant clay court player in the world and as the only player able to beat Federer consistently.

Nadal withdrew due to a shoulder injury against Lleyton Hewitt in the quarterfinals of Queens Club, a Wimbledon tune-up tournament. This loss ended a streak of 26 matches dating from his loss to Carlos Moyà in March.

Seeded No. 2 going into Wimbledon, Nadal reached the finals, securing a match against Federer by beating Marcos Baghdatis in the semifinals. During his run, Nadal was two points from defeat against American qualifier Robert Kendrick in the second round before coming back to win in five sets. Nadal also defeated Andre Agassi in the third round, in Agassi's final match at Wimbledon. All seven of the previous Nadal/Federer encounters had been played on either clay or hard courts; however, Wimbledon is played on grass, Federer's preferred surface. He had won the title three consecutive years. Though Nadal played well in the final after a sluggish start, he fell in four sets, 6-0, 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, cementing Federer's position at the top of the world rankings. Despite the loss, Nadal well exceeded most expectations by reaching the finals, winning more matches at Wimbledon (six) than he had ever won on grass in his entire career. Prior to the 2006 tennis season, Nadal's record on grass courts stood at three wins and three losses, and even the most optimistic predictions suggested that he would be several years away from being a contender on grass.

With their finals appearance, Nadal and Federer became the only pair of men in the open era to reach the Wimbledon final after having both played in the French Open final just a month prior. There have been several men to reach the Wimbledon final after making the French Open final, but never had the same two men accomplished such a feat at the same time. They repeated this feat in 2007.

At the 2006 U.S. Open Nadal reached the quarterfinals, his best result at the tournament to date. He lost to Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in four sets. Nadal failed, however, to reach the third round of his next tournament, the Stockholm Open, where he lost to Joachim Johansson 6-4, 7-6. Nadal also lost in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Masters, where he was defeated by Tomáš Berdych 6-3, 7-6 for the third time. After the tournament, Nadal blamed mental and physical exhaustion for his recent losses.

During the round robin stage of the Tennis Masters Cup, Nadal lost to James Blake, but defeated Nikolay Davydenko and Tommy Robredo. Nadal reached the semifinals as the second place finisher in his group, where he lost to Federer 7-5, 6-4. This was Nadal's third loss in nine career matches with Federer.

2007

Rafa started 2007 by reaching the semifinals of the Chennai Open in India, where he lost to Xavier Malisse 6-4, 7-6. At his next tournament in Sydney, Australia, Nadal retired from his first match against Chris Guccione with a groin injury. At the Australian Open, Nadal defeated Andy Murray 6-7(3), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals, where he lost to Fernando González 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.

In the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships, Nadal lost to Mikhail Youzhny 7-6, 6-2. After that loss, he played at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, defeating Novak Djokovic 6-2, 7-5 in the final. However, at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, Nadal was defeated in the quarterfinals by tenth seeded and eventual winner ?jokovi? 6-3, 6-4.

Nadal defeated Federer in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters 6-4, 6-4. This was Nadal's third consecutive title in the principality, the first player since Ilie N?stase in 1971-73 to accomplish that feat. He followed that hat-trick with another one at the Open Seat in Barcelona, Spain, defeating Guillermo Cañas in the final. At the Rome Masters, Nadal continued his hat-trick streak, beating Fernando González in the final 6-2, 6-2 to become the first man to win in Rome three consecutive years. At the Hamburg Masters, Nadal lost the final to Federer 2-6, 6-2, 6-0. The loss ended Nadal's clay court winning streak at 81, which is the male open-era record for most consecutive victories on a single surface. He thus surpassed John McEnroe's 65-match streak record on indoor carpet.

Nadal and Federer would meet in the final of the French Open for the second consecutive year, and in the latter stages of the tournament for the third time in a row. Nadal prevailed in four sets, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, winning his third straight championship at Roland Garros. With this victory, he became the first player since Björn Borg in 1978-81 to win the French Open in three consecutive years, and once again prevented Federer from achieving the career Grand Slam and owning all four major titles simultaneously.

In preparation for Wimbledon, Nadal played the grass court Queen's Club Championships, losing in the quarterfinals to Frenchman Nicolas Mahut 7-5, 7-6(0).

In Wimbledon, Nadal reached his second final in a row, having been beaten by Federer in the previous year's final. Nadal's road to the final proved difficult, after having nearly been eliminated both in the third and fourth round in tough five-set matches. Numerous rain delays also kept him on the court for seven straight days. In the quarterfinals, Nadal defeated Tomáš Berdych in straight sets, and was awarded victory in his semifinal when fourth seed Novak Djokovic retired injured. However, he was defeated 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-6(3), 2-6, 6-2 in the final by Federer, marking the Swiss' fifth straight triumph at the event. While leading 4-1 in the fourth set, Nadal had to take some time out to have an ailing knee taped, and although he exhibited no apparent ill effects, the direction of the match then turned in Federer's favor. Nadal failed to convert four break point chances in the fifth set.

Despite the loss, Nadal remains the only active player with a winning record (8-5) against Federer after five matches or more. Nadal is 6-1 on clay, 2-2 on hard courts, and 0-2 on grass against Federer. With his achievement in the 2007 Wimbledon final, Nadal is also both the first player that has forced Federer to a fifth set in a Grand Slam final, and the first to take Federer to a fifth set at Wimbledon since his 2001 fourth round encounter with Pete Sampras.

At the clay-court tournament in Stuttgart, his first tournament since Wimbledon, Nadal defeated comeback player Stanislas Wawrinka in the final to win his second title there in three years (he did not participate in 2006). It was his 23rd title.

Nadal then played the Canada Masters tournament, an event he won in 2005. He reached the semi final, where he lost to the eventual winner Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-3. The following week, at the Cincinnati Masters, Nadal retired from his first match (a second-round encounter with Juan Mónaco who was leading 7-6, 4-1). Although Nadal had been struggling with a knee injury, it was a problem with his forearm that caused him to retire.

At the 2007 U.S. Open, Nadal was defeated in the fourth round by countryman David Ferrer in four sets, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 6-2.

After a month-long break from tournament tennis, Nadal played the Mutua Madrileña Masters in Madrid and the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. David Nalbandian upset him in the quarterfinals and final of those tournaments. To end the year, Nadal won two of his three round robin matches to advance to the semifinals of the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, where Federer defeated him 6–4, 6–1.

During the second half of the year, Nadal battled a knee injury suffered during the Wimbledon final. In addition, there were rumors at the end of the year that the foot injury he suffered during 2005 caused long term damage, which were given credence by coach Toni Nadal's claim that the problem was "serious". Nadal and his spokesman strongly denied this, however, with Nadal himself calling the story "totally false"

2008

Nadal began the year in India, where he was the runner-up to Mikhail Youzhny at the Chennai Open. Nadal then reached the semifinals of the Australian Open for the first time. He also reached the final of the 2008 Master Series Miami for the second time.

During the spring clay court season, Nadal won four singles titles and defeated Roger Federer in three finals. He beat Federer at the Masters Series Monte Carlo for the third straight year, capturing his open era record fourth consecutive title there. He won in straight sets, despite Federer holding a 4–0 lead in the second set. He then won his fourth consecutive title at the Open Sabadell Atlantico tournament in Barcelona. A few weeks later, Nadal won his first title at the Masters Series Hamburg, defeating Federer in the three-set final. He then won the French Open, becoming only the fifth man in the open era to win a Grand Slam singles title without losing a set. He defeated Federer in the final for the third straight year, but this was the most lopsided of all their matches, as Nadal only lost four games and gave Federer his first bagel since 1999.This was Nadal's fourth consecutive French title, tying Björn Borg's all-time record. Nadal became only the fourth male player during the open era to win the same Grand Slam singles tournament four consecutive years (the others being Borg, Pete Sampras, and Federer).

Nadal then played Federer in the final of Wimbledon for the third consecutive year, in the most anticipated match of their rivalry.Nadal entered the final on a 23-match winning streak, including his first career grass court title at the Artois Championships,becoming the first Spanish man to win a grass-court title since Andres Gimeno in 1972, staged at Queen's Club in London prior to Wimbledon. Federer had won his record fifth grass court title at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle without facing a break point and then reached the Wimbledon final without losing a set. Unlike their previous two Wimbledon finals, though, Federer was not the prohibitive favorite, and many analysts picked Nadal to win. They played the longest final in Wimbledon history, and because of rain delays, Nadal won the fifth set 9-7 in near-darkness. The match was widely lauded as the greatest Wimbledon final ever, with some long-time tennis critics[who?] even calling it the greatest match in tennis history. By winning his first Wimbledon title, Nadal became only the third man in the open era to win both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year (after Rod Laver in 1969 and Borg in 1978-80) as well as the second Spaniard to win Wimbledon. He also ended Federer's record streak of five consecutive Wimbledon titles and 65 straight wins on grass courts.

After Wimbledon, Nadal extended his winning streak to a career-best 32 matches. He won his second Rogers Cup title in Toronto and then made it into the semifinals of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati, Ohio. As a result, Nadal clinched the US Open Series and, combined with Federer's early round losses in both of those tournaments, finally earned Nadal the World No. 1 ranking on August 18, officially ending Federer's record four-and-a-half year reign at the top. Nadal is also the fifth left-hander to rank No. 1, the first since Chilean Marcelo Rios in 1998. Other left-handers to hold the top position are Austrian Thomas Muster (1996), and Americans John McEnroe (1980) and Jimmy Connors (1974).

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the semifinals 6–4, 1–6, 6–4 and Fernando González of Chile in the final to win his first Olympic gold medal. Nadal became the first male player ranked in the top five to win the gold medal.

At the US Open, Nadal was the top-seeded player for the first time at a Grand Slam tournament. He did not lose a set during his first three matches, defeating qualifiers in the first and second rounds and Viktor Troicki in the third round. He then needed four sets to defeat both Sam Querrey in the fourth round and Mardy Fish in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, he lost to Andy Murray 6–2, 7–6(5), 4–6, 6–4. Later in the year in Madrid, Nadal helped Spain defeat the United States in the Davis Cup semifinals.

At the Mutua Madrileña Masters in Madrid, Nadal lost in the semifinals to Gilles Simon 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(6). His performance at this event however, guarantees that he will become the first Spaniard during the open era to finish the year as the World No. 1.Two weeks later at the BNP Paribas Masters in France, Nadal, received a first round bye and defeated two French favorites Florent Serra and Gaël Monfils before making it to the quarterfinals where he faced Nikolay Davydenko. Nadal would lose the first set 6-1, before retiring in the second with a knee injury. The following week, Nadal then announced his withrawal from the year-end Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai citing tendinitis of the knee. On 10 November Nadal withdrew from his Davis Cup tie final against Argentina as his injury to his knee had not healed well enough.

 

Battle of Surfaces exhibition

On May 2, 2007, the "Battle of Surfaces," an exhibition event, took place at the Palma Arena in Mallorca. Nadal and Federer met on a tennis court that was half grass and half clay. Nadal won 7-5, 4-6, 7-6(10).

Playing style

Nadal's playing style is best tailored for clay courts, with a strong two-handed backhand, well-angled topspin strokes, fast mobility on the court, and a preference to play from the deep court. He is naturally right-handed, but he plays left-handed, and uses his dominant hand as an anchor for his two-handed backhand. His two-handed backhand is extremely reliable, tending to hit winners on the run as well as standing still. Nadal is extremely athletic, and tends to go after every shot, even apparent winners from his opponents.

Nadal's serve is not considered one of his strengths, but can be relied upon for consistency and also for some short-point wins (aces, serve-return errors, and serve-return sitters). With excellent accuracy, power, and consistency, his topspin groundstroke is one of his assets. He incorporates a defensive-playing style most of the time, but often becomes offensive as well.

Overall, Nadal is an aggressive counterpuncher, forcing his opponents to make errors with his powerful topspin, his speed, and his athleticism.

Equipment

Nadal uses a Babolat AeroPro Drive racquet and his string of choice is Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour. This model's handle is slightly thicker and the racket more tightly strung than most other top players. His clothing sponsor is Nike. Nadal is known for wearing Capri (3/4) pants. He wears the Nike Air Max Breathe Cage shoes  and has "Vamos Rafa" ("Let's Go Rafa" in Spanish) written on the back of them, a common exhortation by his fans.

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