The Majorcan tennis player has managed to reach the top several times despite suffering several injuries
Rafael Nadal has the chance these to renew his champion title at Roland Garros, the most important Grand Slam on Clay, which he already won in 2017.
The tennis player from Manacor (Mallorca), who will turn 32 this June 3, is already part of the history as the top winner in the French tournament: he has won it 10 times. But his career has many more achievements and is an example of overcoming.
Born in 1986, the young Rafa picked up his first racket at age three, when he began to play tennis with his uncle Toni, one of his greatest influences. As a child he combined tennis with other activities such as soccer, but at age 12 he decided that the racket was really his thing.
He had won several tennis tournaments by then and, with his uncle’s support, he quickly took off. At 15 he began his professional career and at 19 he was competing against the best.
In 2005, when he was only 19 years old, he played Roland Garros for the first time and won. It was the second time for somebody to win in their first time and, with that feat, Rafa showed the world that he had come to stay.
Since then his career has been full of achievements, though with some ups and downs, and always facing tough competition from tennis players like Roger Federer, Andy Murray or Novak Djokovic, who he shares healthy rivalry and gets on very well with off the courts.
Master on Clay
Tournaments on clay are Rafa’s specialty. It is the most usual kind of court in Spain and where he trained for most of his youth.
His dominance at Roland Garros goes without question with his record: in addition to 2005, he has won the title in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017. Last year he received a replica of the French trophy after reaching the record of 10 titles on the Parisian tracks.
On Spanish territory, Nadal is the big all-time winner at the Conde de Godó Tournament, in Barcelona. He has won it 11 times and the organization has given him two replicas of the original trophy in recognition for his great career. What’s more, in 2017 the main court was renamed after him.
The Spanish player has also won Grand Slam titles, the great tournaments of the world tennis circuit, in other courts.
So, he has won the Australian Open once (2009), Wimbledon twice (2008 and 2010) and the US Open three times (2010, 2013 and 2017). He was also part of the Spanish teams that won the Davis Cup in 2004, 2009, 2009 and 2010, as well as getting the gold medal in the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Indeed, 2008 was Rafa Nadal’s first great year. In August he managed to reach number one in the world ranking and oust Roger Federer, who had been in the place for over four years.
Injuries and Overcoming
All the titles he has won make something clear: Rafael Nadal is one of the best tennis players in history. However, his career has been affected by several injuries that have forced him to keep off the courts on several occasions.
One of the worst seasons was in 2012; the problems in his knee forced the Majorcan to turn down his participation at the London Olympic Games and was unable not compete for seven months. His spirit of recovery put him back in the game and ready for action in 2013.
Again, in 2014 he went through difficult months, with several stops for a wrist injury from which he has yet not fully recovered. Also, towards the end of the season, a beginning of appendicitis forced him to undergo surgery.
His return in 2015 and performance in 2016 were very difficult, again with several injuries, and many fans and professionals were wondering if Rafa Nadal could again keep up the pace of previous years.
In 2017 he emerged from the ashes and staged a triumphant return, regaining number one after several years of suffering. Rafa began 2018 with an injury which he had been dragging since last year, but has recovered in time for the clay and so far he has made it to this year’s Roland Garros with 80 victories. Will he manage to win it again?
Rafa Nadal Foundation and Academy
Rafa has taken advantage of his successes in his career to help in cooperation and social inclusion projects. Through the Rafa Nadal Foundation, the tennis player has helped thousands of children and young people at risk of social exclusion through sports.
In 2015 he opened a tennis academy in Manacor, a high-performance centre for future tennis professionals players.
And although tennis has become his life, Rafa has not stopped his love for football. His uncle, Miquel Àngel Nadal, was one of the players of the Barça Dream Team, but Rafa is actually a Real Madrid fan.
The Majorcan player is a self-confessed “merengue” (Madrid supporter) and supports the whites whenever he can. Truth is, according to his uncle, he also has great respect for Barça.
Rafa with his uncle, Miguel Angel Nadal, who was a mainstay for Barcelona between 1991 and 1999 and won 62 caps for Spain. They called him "The Beast" because he was such a terrifying opponent, whether in defence or midfield. 🇪🇸🇪🇸🇪🇸🇪🇸🇪🇸 #rafa #rafaelnadal #miguelangelnadal #nadal #vamos #teamrafa #teamnadal #football #spain #barcelona