|Intro||Spanish tennis player|
|A.K.A.||Rafael Nadal Parera, Rafa Nadal|
|Is||Athlete Tennis player Model|
|Birth||3 June 1986, Manacor, Balearic Islands, Spain|
|Residence||Manacor, Balearic Islands, Spain|
Rafael "Rafa" Nadal Parera (Catalan: [rəfəˈɛɫ nəˈðaɫ pəˈɾeɾə], Spanish: [rafaˈel naˈðal paˈɾeɾa]; born 3 June 1986) is a Spanish professional tennis player, currently ranked world No. 1 in men's singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). Known as "The King of Clay", he is widely regarded as the greatest clay-court player in history. Nadal's evolution into an all-court threat has established him as one of the greatest tennis players of all time.
Nadal has won 16 Grand Slam singles titles, 30 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, 19 ATP World Tour 500 tournaments, and the 2008 Olympic gold medal in singles. In majors, Nadal has won 10 French Open titles, 3 US Open titles, 2 Wimbledon titles, and one Australian Open title. He was also a member of the winning Spain Davis Cup team in 2004, 2008, 2009, and 2011. In 2010, he became the seventh male player in history and youngest of five in the Open Era to achieve the Career Grand Slam at age 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.
Rafael Nadal was born in Manacor, Balearic Islands, Spain. His father, Sebastián Nadal, is a businessman who owns an insurance company as well as a glass and window company, Vidres Mallorca, and manages his own restaurant, Sa Punta. His mother is Ana María Parera, a housewife. He has a younger sister named María Isabel. His uncle, Miguel Ángel Nadal, is a retired professional footballer, who played for RCD Mallorca, FC Barcelona, and the Spanish national team. Nadal supports football clubs Real Madrid and RCD Mallorca. 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.
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.
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. 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."
When he was 14, the Spanish tennis federation requested that he leave Mallorca and move to Barcelona to continue his tennis training. Nadal's family turned down this request, partly because they feared it would hurt his education, but also because Toni said that "I don't want to believe that you have to go to America, or other places to be a good athlete. You can do it from your home." The decision to stay home meant that Nadal received less financial support from the federation; instead, Nadal's father covered the costs. In May 2001, he defeated former Grand Slam tournament champion Pat Cash in a clay-court exhibition match.
Nadal turned professional at the age of 15, and he participated in two events on the ITF junior circuit. In 2002, at the age of 16, Nadal reached the semifinals of the Boys' Singles tournament at Wimbledon, in his first ITF junior event. In the same year, he helped Spain defeat the US in the final of the Junior Davis Cup in his second, and final, appearance on the ITF junior circuit.
In 2003, he won the ATP Newcomer of the Year Award. 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. 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. Early in his career, Nadal became known for his habit of biting the trophies he won.
On 29 April 2002, at 15 years and 10 months, the world No. 762 Nadal won his first ATP match, defeating Ramón Delgado, and became the ninth player in the Open Era to do so before the age of 16. The following year, Nadal won two Challenger titles and finished the year in the top 50. At his Wimbledon debut in 2003, Nadal became the youngest man to reach the third round since Boris Becker in 1984.
Nadal reached the third round of the 2004 Australian Open where he lost in three sets against Australian Lleyton Hewitt. Interestingly, had he won, he would have faced Roger Federer in the next round. Later that year, Nadal played his first match against world No. 1 Roger Federer at the 2004 Miami Masters, and won in straight sets, before losing to Fernando González in the fourth round. He was one of the six players who defeated Federer that year (along with Tim Henman, Albert Costa, Gustavo Kuerten, Dominik Hrbatý, and Tomáš Berdych). He missed most of the clay court season, including the French Open, because of a stress fracture in his left ankle.
Nadal, at 18 years and six months, became the youngest player to register a singles victory in a Davis Cup final for a winning nation. By beating world No. 2 Andy Roddick, he helped Spain clinch the 2004 title over the United States in a 3–2 win. He finished the year ranked world No. 51.
2005: First Grand Slam title
At the 2005 Australian Open, Nadal lost in the fourth round to eventual runner-up Lleyton Hewitt. Two months later, Nadal reached the final of the 2005 Miami Masters, and despite being two points from a straight-sets victory, he was defeated in five sets by world No. 1 Roger Federer. Both performances were considered to be breakthroughs for Nadal.
He then dominated the spring clay court season. He won 24 consecutive singles matches, which broke Andre Agassi's Open Era record of consecutive match wins for a male teenager. Nadal won the Torneo Conde de Godó in Barcelona and beat 2004 French Open runner-up Guillermo Coria in the finals of the 2005 Monte Carlo Masters and the 2005 Rome Masters. These victories raised his ranking to world No. 5 and made him one of the favorites at his career-first French Open. On his 19th birthday, Nadal defeated Federer in the 2005 French Open semifinals, being one of only four players who defeated the top-seeded player that year (along with Marat Safin, Richard Gasquet, and David Nalbandian). Two days later, he defeated Mariano Puerta in the final, becoming the second male player after Mats Wilander to win the French Open on his first attempt. He also became the first teenager to win a Grand Slam singles title since Pete Sampras won the 1990 US Open at age 19. Winning the French Open improved Nadal's ranking to world No. 3.
Three days after his victory in Paris, Nadal's 24-match winning streak was snapped in the first round of the grass court Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, where he lost to the German Alexander Waske. He then lost in the second round of 2005 Wimbledon to Gilles Müller of Luxembourg.
Immediately after Wimbledon, Nadal won 16 consecutive matches and three consecutive tournaments, bringing his ranking to world No. 2 on 25 July 2005.
Nadal started his North American summer hard-court season by defeating Agassi in the final of the 2005 Canada Masters, but lost in the first round of the 2005 Cincinnati Masters. Nadal was seeded second at the 2005 US Open, where he was upset in the third round by world No. 49 James Blake in four sets.
In September, he defeated Coria in the final of the China Open in Beijing and won both of his Davis Cup matches against Italy. In October, he won his fourth ATP Masters Series title of the year, defeating Ivan Ljubičić in the final of the 2005 Madrid Masters. He then suffered a foot injury that prevented him from competing in the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup.
Both Nadal and Federer won eleven singles titles and four ATP Masters Series titles in 2005. Nadal broke Mats Wilander's previous teenage record of nine in 1983. Nine of Nadal's titles were on clay, and the remainder were on hard courts. Nadal won 79 matches, second only to Federer's 81. Nadal won the Golden Bagel Award for 2005, with eleven 6–0 sets during the year. Also, he earned the highest year-end ranking ever by a Spaniard and the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year award.
2006: Second French Open title
Nadal missed the Australian Open because of a foot injury. In February, he lost in the semifinals of the first tournament he played, the Open 13 tournament in Marseille, France. Two weeks later, he handed Roger Federer his first loss of the year in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Men's Open (in 2006, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray were the only two men who defeated Federer). To complete the spring hard-court season, Nadal was upset in the semifinals of the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, by James Blake, and was upset in the second round of the 2006 Miami Masters.
On European clay, Nadal won all four tournaments he entered and 24 consecutive matches. He defeated Federer in the final of the Masters Series Monte Carlo in four sets. The following week, he defeated Tommy Robredo in the final of the Open Sabadell Atlántico tournament in Barcelona. After a one-week break, Nadal won the Masters Series Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, defeating Federer in a fifth-set tiebreaker in the final, after saving two match points and equaling Björn Borg's tally of 16 ATP titles won as a teenager. Nadal broke Argentinian Guillermo Vilas's 29-year male record of 53 consecutive clay-court match victories by winning his first round match at the French Open. Vilas presented Nadal with a trophy, but commented later that Nadal's feat was less impressive than his own because Nadal's winning streak covered two years and was accomplished by adding easy tournaments to his schedule.
Nadal went on to play Federer in the final of the French Open. The first two sets of the match were hardly competitive, as the rivals traded 6–1 sets. Nadal won the third set easily and served for the match in the fourth set before Federer broke him and forced a tiebreaker. Nadal won the tiebreaker and became the first player to defeat Federer in a Grand Slam tournament final.
Nadal injured his shoulder while playing a quarterfinal match against Lleyton Hewitt at the Artois Championships, played on grass at the Queen's Club in London. Nadal was unable to complete the match, which ended his 26-match winning streak. Nadal was seeded second at Wimbledon, but was two points from defeat against American qualifier Robert Kendrick in the second round before coming back to win in five sets. In the third round, Nadal defeated world No. 20 Andre Agassi in straight sets at Agassi's last career match at Wimbledon. Nadal also won his next three matches in straight sets, which set up his first Wimbledon final, which was against Federer, who had won this tournament the three previous years. Nadal was the first Spanish man since Manuel Santana in 1966, to reach the Wimbledon final, but Federer won the match in four sets to win his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title.
During the lead up to the US Open, Nadal played the two Masters Series tournaments in North America. He was upset in the third round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati. Nadal was seeded second at the US Open, but lost in the quarterfinals to world No. 54 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in four sets.
Nadal played only three tournaments the remainder of the year. Joachim Johansson, ranked world No. 690, upset Nadal in the second round of the Stockholm Open. The following week, Nadal lost to Tomáš Berdych in the quarterfinals of the year's last Masters Series tournament, the Mutua Madrileña Masters in Madrid. During the round-robin stage of the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup, Nadal lost to James Blake but defeated Nikolay Davydenko and Robredo. Because of those two victories, Nadal qualified for the semifinals, where he lost to Federer. This was Nadal's third loss in nine career matches with Federer.
Nadal went on to become the first player since Andre Agassi in 1994–95 to finish the year as the world No. 2 in consecutive years.
2007: Third French Open title
Nadal started the year by playing in six hard-court tournaments. He lost in the semifinals and first round of his first two tournaments and then lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open to eventual runner-up Fernando González. After another quarterfinal loss at the Dubai Tennis Championships, he won the 2007 Indian Wells Masters, before Novak Djoković defeated him in the quarterfinals of the 2007 Miami Masters.
He had comparatively more success after returning to Europe to play five clay-court tournaments. He won the titles at the Masters Series Monte Carlo, the Open Sabadell Atlántico in Barcelona, and the Masters Series Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, before losing to Roger Federer in the final of the Masters Series Hamburg. This defeat ended his 81-match winning streak on clay, which is the male Open Era record for consecutive wins on a single surface. He then rebounded to win the French Open for the third straight year, defeating Federer once again in the final.
Between the tournaments in Barcelona and Rome, Nadal defeated Federer in the "Battle of Surfaces" exhibition match in Mallorca, Spain, with the tennis court being half grass and half clay.
Nadal played the Artois Championships at the Queen's Club in London for the second consecutive year. As in 2006, Nadal was upset in the quarterfinals. Nadal then won consecutive five-set matches during the third and fourth rounds of Wimbledon before being beaten by Federer in the five-set final. This was Federer's first five-set match at Wimbledon since 2001.
In July, Nadal won the clay court Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, which proved to be his last title of the year. He played three important tournaments during the North American summer hard court season. He was a semifinalist at the Masters Series Rogers Cup in Montreal before losing his first match at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati. He was the second-seeded player at the US Open, but was defeated in the fourth round by David Ferrer.
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 in straight sets.
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: Two majors, Olympic gold and No. 1
Nadal began the year in India, where he was comprehensively beaten by Mikhail Youzhny in the final of the Chennai Open. Nadal then reached the semifinals of the Australian Open for the first time. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Nadal in the semifinal of 2008 Australian Open. Nadal also reached the final of the Miami Masters 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. Nadal then won his fourth consecutive title at the Open Sabadell Atlántico tournament in Barcelona. A few weeks later, Nadal won his first title at the Masters Series Hamburg, defeating Federer in a three-set final. He then won the French Open, becoming 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 the fourth male player during 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 staged at the Queen's Club in London prior to Wimbledon. Federer had won his record fifth grass-court title at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, 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 (in terms of time on court, not in terms of numbers of games) 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 tennis critics even calling it the greatest match in tennis history.
By winning his first Wimbledon title, Nadal became 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 1978–1980, (Federer later accomplished this the following year) 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. This was also the first time that Nadal won two Grand Slam tournaments back-to-back.
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. As a result, Nadal clinched the US Open Series and, combined with Federer's early-round losses in both of those tournaments, finally earned the world No. 1 ranking on 18 August, officially ending Federer's record four-and-a-half-year reign at the top.
At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Nadal defeated Fernando González of Chile in the final to win his first Olympic 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. In the semifinals, he lost to eventual runner up, Andy Murray. 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. However, his performance at the event guaranteed that he would 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 Paris, Nadal reached the quarterfinals, where he was forced to withdraw because of a knee injury. The following week, Nadal announced his withdrawal from the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, citing tendinitis of the knee. On 10 November, Nadal withdrew from Spain's Davis Cup final against Argentina, as his knee injury had not healed completely.
2009: Australian Open title
Nadal's first official ATP tour event for the year was the 250 series Qatar Open in Doha, where he lost in the quarterfinals to Gaël Monfils. Nadal also entered and won the tournament's doubles event with partner Marc López, defeating the world No. 1 doubles team of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjić in the final.
At the 2009 Australian Open, Nadal won his first five matches without dropping a set, before defeating compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals in the second longest match in Australian Open history at 5 hours and 14 minutes. This win set up a championship match with Roger Federer, their first meeting ever in a hard-court Grand Slam tournament. Nadal defeated Federer in five sets to earn his first hard-court Grand Slam singles title, making him the first Spaniard to win the Australian Open.
At the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Nadal lost in the final to second-seeded Andy Murray in three sets. Although this knee problem was not associated with Nadal's right knee tendonitis, it was serious enough to cause him to withdraw from the Dubai Championships a week later. In March, Nadal helped Spain defeat Serbia in a Davis Cup World Group first-round tie on clay in Benidorm, Spain. Nadal defeated Janko Tipsarević and Novak Djokovic.
At the 2009 Indian Wells Masters, Nadal won his thirteenth Masters 1000 series tournament, defeating Murray in the final. The next ATP tour event was the 2009 Miami Masters. Nadal advanced to the quarterfinals, where he again faced Argentinian del Potro, this time losing the match.
Nadal began his European clay court season at the Monte Carlo Masters, where he defeated Novak Djokovic to win a record fifth consecutive singles title there. He then won back to back titles in Barcelona and Rome Masters, defeating Ferrer and Djokovic respectively. He then surprisingly lost the final of the Madrid Open to Roger Federer. This was the first time that Nadal had lost to Federer since the semifinals of the 2007 Tennis Masters Cup.
By beating Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of French Open, Nadal set a record of 31 consecutive wins at Roland Garros, beating the previous record of 28 by Björn Borg. This run came to an end on 31 May 2009, when Nadal lost to eventual runner-up, Robin Söderling in the 4th round. This was Nadal's first and, until 2015, only loss at the French Open.
After his surprise defeat at Roland Garros, Nadal withdrew from the AEGON Championships. It was confirmed that he was suffering from tendinitis in both of his knees. On 19 June, Nadal withdrew from the 2009 Wimbledon Championships, citing his recurring knee injury. Roger Federer went on to win the title, and Nadal consequently dropped back to world No. 2 on 6 July 2009.
On 4 August, Toni Nadal confirmed that Nadal would return to play at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. There, he lost in the quarterfinals to Juan Martín del Potro. With this loss, he relinquished the No. 2 spot to Andy Murray on 17 August 2009, ranking outside the top two for the first time since 25 July 2005.
At the US Open Nadal fell in the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Juan Martín del Potro.
In December, Nadal participated in the second Davis Cup final of his career. He defeated Tomáš Berdych in his first singles rubber to give the Spanish Davis Cup Team their first point in the tie. After the Spanish Davis Cup team had secured its fourth Davis Cup victory, Nadal defeated Jan Hájek in the first Davis Cup dead rubber of his career.
Nadal finished the year as No. 2 for the fourth time in five years. Nadal won the Golden Bagel Award for the third time in 2009, with nine 6–0 sets during the year.
2010: Return to No. 1 and Career Grand Slam
Nadal began the year by participating in the Capitala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. In the final, Nadal defeated Robin Söderling in straight sets. Nadal participated in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open ATP 250 event in Doha, where he lost in the finals to Nikolay Davydenko. In the Australian Open, Nadal reached the quarterfinals, where he had to pull out at 3–0 down in the third set against Andy Murray. After examining Nadal's knees, doctors told him that he should take two weeks of rest, and then two weeks of rehabilitation.
Nadal reached the semifinals in singles at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where he was defeated by Ivan Ljubičić in three sets. After Indian Wells, Nadal reached the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open, where he lost to eventual champion Andy Roddick in three sets.
Nadal won the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, beating Fernando Verdasco in the final. With this win, Nadal became the first player in the open era to win a tournament title for six straight years. Nadal next chose to skip the Barcelona tournament, and his next tournament was the Rome Masters. He defeated David Ferrer in the final for his fifth title at Rome.
Nadal then won the 2010 Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open, defeating Roger Federer in straight sets. The win gave him his 18th Masters title, breaking the all-time record. Nadal moved back to No. 2 the following day.
Entering the French Open, many were expecting another Nadal-Federer final. However, Robin Söderling defeated Federer in the quarterfinals. Nadal advanced to the final and defeated Söderling in straight sets. The victory at Roland Garros marked the second time that Nadal had won the French Open without dropping a set.
In June, Nadal entered the AEGON Championships, which he had won in 2008. He was defeated by compatriot Feliciano López in the quartefinals. At the Wimbledon Championships, he won his first two matches in straight sets. In the third round he needed five sets to defeat Philipp Petzschner. During the match Nadal was warned twice for allegedly receiving coaching from his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, resulting in a $2,000 fine by Wimbledon officials. He then defeated Andy Murray in the semifinals and Tomáš Berdych in the final to win his second Wimbledon title and his eighth career major title just past the age of 24.
In his first tournament since Wimbledon, Nadal advanced to the semifinals of the Rogers Cup, where he was defeated by Andy Murray. Nadal also competed in the doubles with Djokovic in a high-profile partnership between the world No. 1 and No. 2. The pair lost in the first round to Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil. The next week, Nadal was the top seed at the Cincinnati Masters, losing in the quarterfinals to Marcos Baghdatis.
At the 2010 US Open, Nadal reached his first final without dropping a set. In the final, he defeated Novak Djokovic in four sets, completing the Career Grand Slam for Nadal; he also became the second male after Andre Agassi to complete a Career Golden Slam.
Nadal's US Open victory meant that he also became the first man to win majors on clay, grass, and hard courts in the same year, and the first to win the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969. Nadal's victory also clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking for 2010.
Nadal began his Asian tour at the 2010 PTT Thailand Open in Bangkok where he lost to compatriot Guillermo García-López in the semifinals. Nadal was able to regroup, winning the 2010 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo by defeating Gaël Monfils for his seventh title of the season. Nadal next played in the Shanghai Rolex Masters, where he lost to world No. 12 Jürgen Melzer in the third round. On 5 November, Nadal announced that he was pulling out of the Paris Masters owing to tendinitis in his left shoulder. On 21 November 2010, in London, Nadal won the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the first time.
At the 2010 ATP World Tour Finals in London, Nadal won all of his round-robin matches. In the semifinal, he defeated Murray in three sets, before losing to Roger Federer in the final.
2011: Sixth French Open title
Nadal started 2011 by participating in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. In the final, he won over Roger Federer. At the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, he fell in straight sets Nikolay Davydenko in the semifinals. He and countryman López won the doubles title by defeating Daniele Bracciali and Andreas Seppi.
In the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, Nadal suffered a hamstring injury against David Ferrer early in the pair's quarterfinal match and ultimately lost in straight sets, thus ending his effort to win four major tournaments in a row.
At both the 2011 BNP Paribas Open and the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open, Nadal reached the final and lost to Novak Djokovic in three sets. This was the first time Nadal reached the finals of Indian Wells and Miami in the same year.
Nadal began his clay-court season by winning the 2011 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters with the loss of just one set. In the final, he avenged his defeat by David Ferrer in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Just a week later, Nadal won his sixth Barcelona Open crown, again defeating Ferrer in straight sets. He then lost to Novak Djokovic in the Rome Masters and Madrid Open finals. However, Nadal retained his No. 1 ranking during the clay-court season and won his sixth French Open title by defeating Roger Federer.
At Wimbledon, Nadal reached the final after three four-set matches. This set up a final against world No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who had beaten Nadal in all four of their matches in 2011. After dropping the third set, Djokovic defeated Nadal in the fourth. Djokovic's success at the tournament also meant that the Serb overtook Nadal as world No. 1.
After resting for a month from a foot injury sustained during Wimbledon, he contested the 2011 Rogers Cup, where he was beaten by Croatian Ivan Dodig in the quarterfinals. He next played in the 2011 Cincinnati Masters, where he lost to Mardy Fish, again in the quarterfinals.
At the 2011 US Open, Nadal made headlines when after defeating David Nalbandian on in the fourth round, he collapsed in his post-match press conference because to severe cramps. He again lost in four sets to Novak Djokovic in the final.
After the US Open, Nadal made the final of the Japan Open Tennis Championships. Nadal, who was the 2010 champion, was defeated by Andy Murray. At the Shanghai Masters, he was upset in the third round by No. 23 ranked Florian Mayer. At the 2011 ATP World Tour Finals, Nadal was defeated by Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the round-robin stage, and was subsequently eliminated from the tournament. In the Davis Cup final in December, he helped Spain win the title with victories over Juan Mónaco and Juan Martín del Potro.
2012: Seventh French Open title
Nadal began his ATP World Tour season at the Qatar Open. In the semifinal he lost to Gaël Monfils in two sets.
In the Australian Open Nadal won his first four matches without dropping a set. He then won in his quarterfinal and semifinal matches against Tomáš Berdych and Roger Federer respectively. In the final, on 29 January, he was beaten by Novak Djokovic in a five-set match that lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes, the longest Grand Slam final of all time.
Nadal made it to the semifinals in Indian Wells, where he was beaten in straight sets by eventual champion Roger Federer. He also made the semifinals in Miami, but withdrew because of knee problems.
As the clay court season started, Nadal was seeded 2nd at the 2012 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. In the final he topped world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to win his 8th consecutive Monte Carlo trophy. This ended a streak of seven straight final losses to Djokovic.
A day after the Monte Carlo final, Nadal traveled to Barcelona where he received a bye in the first round. His tremendous record on clay continued as he beat compatriot David Ferrer in a three-set final to clinch his seventh title in eight years at the Barcelona Open.
At the Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open Nadal surprisingly lost to Fernando Verdasco, whom he held a 13–0 record against. He heavily criticized the new blue-colored clay and threatened not to attend in the future if the surface was not changed back to red clay. Several other players such as Novak Djokovic voiced similar criticism.
In the last tournament before the French Open, Nadal defeated Djokovic in a tight straight set final. This was his second victory over Novak Djokovic in 2012 and his third title of the season, as well as his 6th Rome title overall.
At the 2012 French Open, Nadal dropped only 30 games against his first five opponents. In the semifinals he dismantled Ferrer to set up another final against Novak Djokovic. This marked the first time two opposing players faced each other in four consecutive Grand Slam finals. Nadal won the first two sets before Djokovic claimed the third. Play was suspended in the fourth set due to rain. When the match resumed the following day, Nadal won when Djokovic double faulted on match point, sealing a record 7th Roland Garros title for Nadal. By winning his seventh title at Roland Garros, Nadal surpassed Borg's overall titles record to become the most successful male player in French Open history. Nadal only lost a total of three sets in the 2012 clay court season.
As a warm-up ahead of Wimbledon Nadal played in Halle, losing to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals. At Wimbledon, Nadal was upset in the second round by Lukáš Rosol in a close five-set match. This was the first time since the Wimbledon 2005 championships that Nadal had failed to progress past the 2nd round of a Grand Slam tournament.
In July 2012, Nadal withdrew from the 2012 Olympics owing to tendinitis in his knee, which subsequently led to him pulling out of both the Rogers Cup and the Cincinnati Masters. He later withdrew from the rest of the 2012 season, as he felt he still was not healthy enough to compete. Nadal ended 2012 ranked No. 4 in the world, the first time in eight years that he has not been ranked 1st or 2nd at the end of the year.
2013: Two major titles, and world No. 1
Two weeks prior to the Australian Open, Nadal officially withdrew from the tournament citing a stomach virus. Nadal's withdrawal saw him drop out of the ATP's Top Four for the first time since 2005.
Playing in his first tournaments in South America since 2005, Nadal made his comeback at the VTR Open in Chile, where he was upset by Argentine world No. 73 Horacio Zeballos in the final. At the Brasil Open, Nadal reached the final, where he defeated David Nalbandian. In the title match of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco, Nadal defeated David Ferrer, losing just two games in the match.
Nadal then returned to the American hard courts, playing the Indian Wells Masters as the fifth seed. He lost only one set, and defeated world No. 2 Roger Federer and world No. 6 Tomáš Berdych before beating Juan Martín del Potro in the final.
After withdrawing from Miami, Nadal attempted to defend his title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, but was beaten by Djokovic in straight sets. He then won his eight title at the Barcelona Open. Nadal went on to win the Mutua Madrid Open, beating Stanislas Wawrinka in the final.
. In May, he defeated Roger Federer for his 7th championship at the 2013 Rome Masters. These victories raised his ranking to world No. 4.
Nadal won the 2013 French Open after beating Novak Djokovic in the semifinal and David Ferrer in the final, breaking the record for the most match wins in the tournament in the process with his 59th match victory. His match with Djokovic is widely considered one of the greatest clay court matches ever played, as Nadal came back from down a break in the fifth set to take out a hard-fought 4-hour, 37-minute victory.
Nadal then lost his first-round match at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships in straight sets to unseeded Belgian Steve Darcis (ranked No. 135), the first time he had ever lost in the first round of a Grand Slam.
In August, Nadal won a close semifinal match in Montreal, denying Djokovic his fourth Rogers Cup title. Nadal proceeded to win the title after beating Milos Raonic in the final in straight sets. He won his 26th ATP Masters 1000 in Cincinnati on Sunday 18 August after beating John Isner in the final. Nadal concluded a brilliant North American hard court season with his 4th hard court title of the year, defeating Djokovic at the 2013 US Open final in four sets, bringing his Grand Slam count to 13 and giving him a male tennis record paycheck of $3.6 million.
Later in September, Nadal helped Spain secure their Davis Cup World Group Playoff spot for 2014, with a victory against Sergiy Stakhovsky and a doubles win with Marc Lopez. In October, he reached the final of the China Open, guaranteeing he would be back to the world number one ranking. In the final, he was beaten by Djokovic in straight sets. At the 2013 Shanghai Rolex Masters, he reached the semifinals but was defeated by Del Potro.
In November, Nadal played his final event of the season in London at the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals where he secured the year end world number one spot. He beat David Ferrer, Stanislas Wawrinka and Tomáš Berdych in the round robin stage to set up a semifinal victory over Roger Federer. Nadal met Djokovic in the final, losing in straight sets.
2014: French Open title and injuries
Rafael Nadal began his 2014 season at the Qatar Open in Doha, defeating Lukáš Rosol in the first round and he won the title after defeating Gaël Monfils in the final.
At the Australian Open, he defeated Roger Federer to reach his third Australian Open final. This marked Nadal's 11th consecutive victory in a Major semifinal, second only to Borg's all-time record of 14. In the final, he faced Stanislas Wawrinka, against whom he entered the match with a 12–0 record. However, Nadal suffered a back injury during the warm-up, which progressively worsened as the match wore on. Nadal lost the first two sets, and although he won the third set, he ultimately lost the match in four sets. The first tournament he played after that was the inaugural Rio Open which he won after defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov in the final. However, at the Indian Wells Masters, Dolgopolov would avenge his loss, defeating Nadal in three sets in the third round. He reached the final of the Miami Masters, falling to Novak Djokovic in straight sets.
Nadal began his clay court season with a quarterfinal loss to David Ferrer in the Monte-Carlo Masters. He was stunned by Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open. Nadal then won his 27th masters title at the Madrid Open after Kei Nishikori retired in the third set of the final. On 8 June 2014, Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the Men's Singles French Open final to win his 9th French Open title and a 5th straight win at Roland Garros. Nadal equaled Pete Sampras' total of 14 Grand Slam wins. Nadal then lost in the second round of the Halle Open to Dustin Brown the following week.
Nadal entered the Wimbledon Championships in a bid to win the tournament for the third time. In the fourth round he was upset by Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios in four sets.
Nadal withdrew from the American swing owing to a wrist injury. He made his return at the 2014 China Open but was defeated in the quarterfinals by Martin Klizan in three sets. At the 2014 Shanghai Rolex Masters, he was suffering from appendicitis. He lost his opening match to Feliciano Lopez in straight sets. Later, he was upset by Borna Ćorić at the quarterfinals of the 2014 Swiss Indoors. After the loss, he announced that he would skip the rest of the season to undergo surgery for his appendix.
2015: Continued struggles and rankings drop
Nadal began the year as the defending Champion at the Qatar Open, but suffered a shocking three set defeat to Michael Berrer in the first round. He won the doubles title with Juan Mónaco. At the Australian Open, Nadal lost in straight sets to Tomáš Berdych in the quarterfinal, thus ending a 17-match winning streak against the seventh-seeded Czech.
In February, Nadal lost in the semifinals to Fabio Fognini at the Rio Open, before going on to win his 46th career clay-court title against Juan Mónaco at the Argentina Open. Nadal then participated at the Indian Wells and Miami Open but suffered early defeats to Milos Raonic and Fernando Verdasco, in the quarterfinals and third round respectively. Nadal then began his spring clay season at the Monte Carlo Masters and reached the semifinals where he lost to Novak Djokovic in straight sets. After losing to Fognini again at the Barcelona Open quarterfinals, Nadal entered the Madrid Open as the two-time defending champion but lost in the final to Andy Murray in straight sets, resulting in his dropping out of the top five for the first time since 2005. He then lost in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters to Stan Wawrinka in straight sets.
Nadal lost to eventual runner-up Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the French Open, ending his winning streak of 39 consecutive victories in Paris since his defeat by Robin Söderling in 2009. Nadal went on to win the 2015 Mercedes Cup against Serbian Viktor Troicki, his first grass court title since he won at Wimbledon in 2010. He was unable to continue his good form on grass as he lost in the first round of the Aegon Championships to Alexandr Dolgopolov in three sets. Nadal's struggles continued when he lost in the second round of Wimbledon to Dustin Brown.
In the third round of the 2015 US Open, Nadal once again lost to Fognini, despite having won the first two sets. This early exit ended Nadal's record 10-year streak of winning at least one major.
2016: Second Olympic gold medal
Nadal started the year winning Mubadala Title defeating Milos Raonic in straight sets. After that, he entered the Doha, Qatar, where he reached the finals, losing to Djokovic in straight sets. This was their 47th match, after which Djokovic led their head-to-head rivalry with 24 matches won. At the Australian Open, Nadal was defeated in five sets by compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the first round. The defeat marked his first opening round exit at the Australian Open.
In April he won his 28th Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo. He went on to win his 17th ATP 500 in Barcelona, winning the trophy for the ninth time in his career. He continued the clay court season in Madrid, falling to Murray in the semifinal.
The following week, Nadal played in Rome Masters where he reached the quarterfinal. Nadal was again defeated by Djokovic in straight sets, although he had a break advantage in both sets and served to win the second.
Following Federer's withdrawal due to injury, Nadal was named the fourth seed at Roland Garros. On 26 May, he became the eighth male player in tennis history to record 200 Grand Slam match wins, as he defeated Facundo Bagnis in straight sets in the second round of the Slam. Following the victory, however, Nadal had to withdraw from competition owing to a left wrist injury initially suffered during the Madrid Open, handing Marcel Granollers a walk-over into the fourth round. On 9 June, Nadal announced that the same wrist injury that forced him to withdraw from the French Open needed more time to heal, and that he would not play at the 2016 Wimbledon Championships. At the Rio 2016 Olympics, Nadal achieved 800 career wins with his quarter-final victory over the Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci. Partnering Marc López, he won the gold medal in men's doubles event for Spain by defeating Romania's Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau in the finals. This made Nadal the second man in the open era to have won gold medals in both singles and doubles. Nadal also advanced to the bronze medal match in the men's singles but was defeated by Kei Nishikori.
At the US Open Nadal was seeded #4 and advanced to the fourth round but was defeated by 24th seed Lucas Pouille in 5 sets. The defeat meant that 2016 was the first year since 2004 in which Nadal had failed to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final.
He played the Shanghai Masters and was upset in the second round by Viktor Troicki. He subsequently ended his 2016 season to let his wrist recover.
2017: US and French titles and year-end No.1
Nadal opened his season by playing at the Brisbane International for the first time, where he reached the quarterfinals before losing to Milos Raonic in three sets. In the second round of the tournament, he defeated Mischa Zverev for the loss of just two games; Zverev went on to upset Andy Murray in the fourth round of the Australian Open. Nadal began the Australian Open with straight-set wins over Florian Mayer and Marcos Baghdatis, before more difficult wins over Alexander Zverev, Mischa's younger brother, and Gael Monfils, which set up his first quarterfinal berth at a Grand Slam since the 2015 French Open. Nadal defeated Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinal and semifinal, respectively (the latter lasting for five sets over five hours), to set up a final against Roger Federer, his first Grand Slam final since he won the 2014 French Open. Nadal went on to lose to Federer in five sets; this was the first time that Nadal had lost to Federer in a Grand Slam since the final of the 2007 Wimbledon Championships.
Nadal made it to the final of Acapulco without dropping a set, but was defeated by big-serving Sam Querrey. In a rematch of the Australian Open final Nadal took on Roger Federer in the fourth round at Indian Wells but again lost to his old rival, this time in straight sets; it was their earliest meeting in a tournament in over a decade. In the Miami Masters, Nadal reached the final to again play Federer, and was once again defeated in straight sets. Nadal then won his 29th Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo; it was his tenth victory in the principality, the most wins by any player at a single tournament in the Open era. Nadal won his 18th ATP 500 title in Barcelona without dropping a set, also marking his tenth victory in Barcelona. Nadal next played in the Madrid Open, where he defeated Dominic Thiem to tie Novak Djokovic's all-time Masters record of 30 titles.
Nadal went on to win a record tenth French Open title, his first since 2014, ending his three-year drought in Grand Slams. Nadal won every set that he played in the tournament, dropping a total of only 35 games over his seven matches, which is the second-fewest by any male (second only to Björn Borg's 32 dropped games at the 1978 French Open) on the way to a title at a Grand Slam tournament in the Open era with all matches being best-of-five-sets. The achievement, called "La Décima" ("the tenth" in Spanish), made Nadal the first male or female in the Open era to win ten titles from a single Grand Slam tournament, following similar achievements in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. Nadal also climbed to second on the all-time Grand Slam titles list, with 15 grand slam championships, putting him one ahead of Pete Sampras.
Nadal lost in the round of 16 at Wimbledon, 13–15 in the fifth set, to Gilles Müller. He returned to competition in Montreal. He won his first match against Coric in straight sets but fell in the Round of 16 to Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov. By 21 August, he retook the ATP No. 1 ranking from Andy Murray. Nadal earned his third US Open title against first-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson, winning the final in straight sets. This marked the first time that Nadal had captured two Grand Slam tournaments in a year since 2013, and the second time since 2010. Nadal extended his winning streak by winning the China Open, winning the final against Nick Kyrgios in straight sets.
After defeating Hyeon Chung in the second round of the Paris Masters Nadal secured the year end number one. He became year end number one for the fourth time in his career, tying him for fourth all-time with Novak Djokovic, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe, behind Pete Sampras (6), and Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors with 5.
By securing year end number one, Nadal broke a number of historical records:
- At the age of 31, he was the oldest person to finish as year end number one.
- He was the first aged over 30 to finish as year end number one.
- Nadal became the first player to hold, lose and regain the year-end No. 1 on three occasions (no one else has done it twice).
- He was the first player to finish No. 1 four times in non-consecutive years.
- He was the first to finish in the top spot four years since he last achieved the feat.
- The nine-year gap between his first year-end No. 1 season (2008) and his last (2017) was a record as well.
Nadal began his 2018 season at the Kooyong Classic, where he lost in first round to Richard Gasquet. He then played at the Tie Break Tens exhibition tournament in Melbourne, beating Lucas Pouille and Lleyton Hewitt in the opening two rounds, before losing in the final to Tomáš Berdych. At the Australian Open, Nadal recorded straight-sets wins over Víctor Estrella Burgos, Leonardo Mayer and Damir Džumhur in the first three rounds, before notching a tougher four-set win against Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round. Nadal faced Marin Čilić in the quarterfinal, but retired in the fifth set due to a hip injury.
On 16 February, Nadal dropped to the World No. 2 ranking after 26 weeks at the top as his 36-year-old rival, Roger Federer, overtook him in points. Bowing out in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, Nadal had only defended 360 of the 1200 points he had won by reaching the final in 2017. At the same time, Federer successfully defended his title and left Australia only 155 points behind Nadal. Federer then won his third Rotterdam Open and collected enough points to overtake the No. 1 position.
Nadal withdrew from the Mexican Open, Indian Wells Masters, and Miami Open due to injury. Despite his absence in Miami, Nadal regained the world No. 1 ranking on April 2nd due to Federer's second-round loss. Nadal will hand the No. 1 position back to Federer if he fails to retain the titles at Monte Carlo in April, at Madrid in May, and at Roland-Garros in June.
Nadal vs. Federer
Roger Federer and Nadal have been playing each other since 2004, and their rivalry is a significant part of both men's careers. They held the top two rankings on the ATP Tour from July 2005 until 14 August 2009, when Nadal fell to world No. 3 (Andy Murray became the new No. 2), and again since 11 September 2017. They are the only pair of men to have ever finished four consecutive calendar years at the top. Nadal ascended to No. 2 in July 2005 and held this spot for a record 160 consecutive weeks before surpassing Federer in August 2008.
They have played 38 times, and Nadal leads their head-to-head series 23–15 overall and 9–3 in Grand Slam tournaments. Nadal has a winning record on clay (13–2) and outdoor hard courts (8–6) while Federer leads the indoor hard courts by 5–1 and grass by 2–1.
As tournament seedings are based on rankings, 24 of their matches have been in tournament finals, including an all-time record nine Grand Slam tournament finals. From 2006 to 2008, they played in every French Open and Wimbledon final, and also met in the title match of the 2009 Australian Open, the 2011 French Open and the 2017 Australian Open. Nadal won six of the nine, losing the first two Wimbledon finals. Four of these matches were five-set matches (2007 and 2008 Wimbledon, 2009 and 2017 Australian Open), and the 2008 Wimbledon final has been lauded as the greatest match ever by many long-time tennis analysts. Nadal is the only player who has competed and won against Federer in the final of a Grand Slam on all three surfaces (grass, hard, and clay).
Nadal vs. Djokovic
Novak Djokovic and Nadal have met 50 times (more than any other pair in the Open Era) and Nadal currently trails at 24–26. Nadal leads on grass 2–1 and clay 15–7, while Djokovic leads on hard courts 18–7. In 2009, this rivalry was listed as the third greatest of the previous 10 years by ATPworldtour.com. Djokovic is one of only two players to have at least ten match wins against Nadal (the other being Federer) and the only person to defeat Nadal seven consecutive times, and two times consecutively on clay. The two earlier shared the record for the longest match played in a best of three sets (4 hours and 3 minutes) at the 2009 Mutua Madrid Open semifinals until the match between Roger Federer and Juan Martín del Potro in the London 2012 Olympics Semifinal, which is the longest best-of-three-set match by time (at 4 hours and 26 minutes). They have also played in a record 12 Masters Series finals.
In the 2011 Wimbledon final, Djokovic won in four sets for his first Grand Slam final over Nadal. Djokovic also defeated Nadal in the 2011 US Open Final. In 2012, Djokovic defeated Nadal in the Australian Open final for a third consecutive Grand Slam final win over Nadal. This is the longest Grand Slam tournament final in Open era history at 5 hours, 53 minutes. Nadal won their last three 2012 meetings in the final of the Monte Carlo Masters, Rome Masters and French Open in April, May, and June 2012, respectively. In 2013, Djokovic defeated Nadal in straight sets in the final at Monte Carlo, ending Nadal's record eight consecutive titles there, but Nadal got revenge at the French Open in an epic five-setter 9–7 in the fifth. In August 2013, Nadal won in Montreal, denying Djokovic his fourth Rogers Cup title. Nadal also defeated Djokovic in the 2013 US Open Final. In their third clash of 2014 Nadal defeated Djokovic in the 2014 French Open final. Since the 2014 French Open Final, Djokovic has won seven consecutive meetings including a win in straight sets in the quarterfinals of the 2015 French Open which ended Nadal's 39-match win streak at Roland Garros and an opportunity for a sixth consecutive title, with Djokovic becoming only the second player after Robin Söderling to defeat Nadal at the event. Nadal easily defeated Djokovic in the Madrid Open semifinals (6–2, 6–4), his first victory against the Serb since the 2014 French Open.
Nadal vs. Murray
Nadal and Andy Murray have met on 24 occasions since 2007, with Nadal leading 17–7. Nadal leads 7–2 on clay, 3–0 on grass, and 7–5 on hard courts (including 4–4 on outdoor courts, but Nadal leads 3–1 on indoor hard courts), but trails 1–3 in finals. The pair once met regularly at Grand Slam level, with nine out of their 23 meetings coming in Grand Slams, with Nadal leading 7–2 (3–0 at Wimbledon, 2–0 at the French Open, 1–1 at the Australian Open, and 1–1 at the US Open). Seven of these nine appearances have been at quarterfinal and semifinal level, making the rivalry an important part of both men's careers. They have never met in a Grand Slam final, however, Murray leads 3–1 in ATP finals, with Nadal winning at Indian Wells in 2009 and Murray winning in Rotterdam the same year, Tokyo in 2011, and Madrid in 2015. Nadal defeated Murray in three consecutive Grand Slam semifinals in 2011 from the French Open to the US Open.
Nadal vs. Wawrinka
Nadal and Stan Wawrinka have met 19 times, with Nadal leading 16–3 (84.21%). Although this rivalry has less significance than rivalries with the other members of the Big Four, the pair have met in several prestigious tournaments. The rivalry saw Nadal winning the first 12 encounters, all in straight sets, including 2 finals, one of which is a Masters 1000 final at Madrid in 2013. However, since Wawrinka's breakthrough season in 2013 the pair has won an almost equal number of matches against each other (3–4) from 2014 onward. Wawrinka scored his first win against Nadal in their most important encounter, the 2014 Australian Open final in 4 sets, denying Nadal's double career slam. It was also the only match between the pair not resulting in a straight set win for either player. Nadal won their second Grand Slam final, at the 2017 French Open.
Nadal's playing style and personality can be summarised by Jimmy Connors," He's built out of a mold that I think I came from also, that you walk out there, you give everything you have from the very first point to the end no matter what the score. And you're willing to lay it all out on the line and you're not afraid to let the people see that."
Nadal generally plays an aggressive, behind-the-baseline game founded on heavy topspin groundstrokes, consistency, speedy footwork and tenacious court coverage, thus making him an aggressive counterpuncher. Known for his athleticism and speed around the court, Nadal is an excellent defender who hits well on the run, constructing winning plays from seemingly defensive positions. He also plays very fine dropshots, which work especially well because his heavy topspin often forces opponents to the back of the court.
Nadal employs a semi-western grip forehand, often with a "lasso-whip" follow-through, where his left arm hits through the ball and finishes above his left shoulder – as opposed to a more traditional finish across the body or around his opposite shoulder. Nadal's forehand groundstroke form allows him to hit shots with heavy topspin – more so than many of his contemporaries.
San Francisco tennis researcher John Yandell used a high-speed video camera and special software to count the average number of revolutions of a tennis ball hit full force by Nadal. Yandell concluded:
The first guys we did were Sampras and Agassi. They were hitting forehands that in general were spinning about 1,800 to 1,900 revolutions per minute. Federer is hitting with an amazing amount of spin, too, right? 2,700 revolutions per minute. Well, we measured one forehand Nadal hit at 4,900. His average was 3,200.
While Nadal's shots tend to land short of the baseline, the characteristically high bounces his forehands achieve tend to mitigate the advantage an opponent would normally gain from capitalizing on a short ball. Although his forehand is based on heavy topspin, he can hit the ball deep and flat with a more orthodox follow through for clean winners.
Nadal's serve was initially considered a weak point in his game, although his improvements in both first-serve points won and break points saved since 2005 have allowed him to consistently compete for and win major titles on faster surfaces. Nadal relies on the consistency of his serve to gain a strategic advantage in points, rather than going for service winners. However, before the 2010 US Open, he altered his service motion, arriving in the trophy pose earlier and pulling the racket lower during the trophy pose. Before the 2010 U.S. Open, Nadal modified his service grip to a more continental one. These two changes in his serve increased his average speed by around 10 mph during the 2010 US Open, maxing out at 135 mph (217 km), allowing him to win more free points on his serve. However, since the 2010 US Open, Nadal's serve speed has dropped to previous levels and has again been cited as a need for improvement.
Nadal is a clay court specialist in the sense that he has been extremely successful on that surface. Since 2005, he won ten times at Roland Garros, ten times at Monte Carlo, ten times at Barcelona and seven at Rome. However, Nadal has shed that label owing to his success on other surfaces, including holding simultaneous Grand Slam tournament titles on grass, hard courts, and clay on two separate occasions, winning eight Masters series titles on hardcourt, and winning the Olympic gold medal on hardcourt.
Despite praise for Nadal's talent and skill, some have questioned his longevity in the sport, citing his build and playing style as conducive to injury. Nadal himself has admitted to the physical toll hard courts place on ATP Tour players, calling for a reevaluated tour schedule featuring fewer hard court tournaments.
Equipment and endorsements
Nadal has been sponsored by Kia Motors since 2006. He has appeared in advertising campaigns for Kia as a global ambassador for the company. In May 2008, Kia released a claymation viral ad featuring Nadal in a tennis match with an alien. In May 2015, Nadal extended his partnership with Kia for another five years.
Nike serves as Nadal's clothing and shoe sponsor. Nadal's signature on-court attire entailed a variety of sleeveless shirts paired with 3/4 length capri pants. For the 2009 season, Nadal adopted more-traditional on-court apparel. Nike encouraged Nadal to update his look in order to reflect his new status as the sport's top player at that time and associate Nadal with a style that, while less distinctive than his "pirate" look, would be more widely emulated by consumers. At warmup tournaments in Abu Dhabi and Doha, Nadal played matches in a polo shirt specifically designed for him by Nike, paired with shorts cut above the knee. Nadal's new, more conventional style carried over to the 2009 Australian Open, where he was outfitted with Nike's Bold Crew Men's Tee and Nadal Long Check Shorts. Nadal wears Nike's Air CourtBallistec 2.3 tennis shoes, bearing various customizations throughout the season, including his nickname "Rafa" on the right shoe and a stylized bull logo on the left.
He became the face of Lanvin's L'Homme Sport cologne in April 2009. Nadal uses an AeroPro Drive racquet with a 41⁄4-inch L2 grip. As of the 2010 season, Nadal's racquets are painted to resemble the new Babolat AeroPro Drive with Cortex GT racquet in order to market a current model which Babolat sells. Nadal uses no replacement grip, and instead wraps two overgrips around the handle. He used Duralast 15L strings until the 2010 season, when he switched to Babolat's new, black-colored, RPM Blast string. Nadal's rackets are always strung at 55 lb (25 kg), regardless of which surface or conditions he is playing on.
As of January 2010, Nadal is the international ambassador for Quely, a company from his native Mallorca that manufactures biscuits, bakery and chocolate-coated products; he has consumed their products ever since he was a young child.
In 2010, luxury watchmaker Richard Mille announced that he had developed an ultra-light wristwatch in collaboration with Nadal called the Richard Mille RM027 Tourbillon watch. The watch is made of titanium and lithium and is valued at US$525,000; Nadal was involved in the design and testing of the watch on the tennis court. During the 2010 French Open, Men's Fitness reported that Nadal wore the Richard Mille watch on the court as part of a sponsorship deal with the Swiss watchmaker.
Nadal replaced Cristiano Ronaldo as the new face of Emporio Armani Underwear and Armani Jeans for the spring/summer 2011 collection. This was the first time that the label has chosen a tennis player for the job; association football has ruled lately prior to Ronaldo, David Beckham graced the ads since 2008. Armani said that he selected Nadal as his latest male underwear model because "...he is ideal as he represents a healthy and positive model for youngsters".
In June 2012, Nadal joined the group of sports endorsers of the PokerStars online poker cardroom. In December 2013, Nadal won a charity poker tournament against retired Brazilian football player Ronaldo and four other competitors.
In April 2017, the centre court of the Barcelona Open was named pista Rafa Nadal.
In popular culture
In February 2010, Rafael Nadal was featured in the music video of Shakira's "Gypsy". and part of her album release She Wolf. In explaining why she chose Nadal for the video, Shakira was quoted as saying in an interview with the Latin American Herald Tribune: "I thought that maybe I needed someone I could in some way identify with. And Rafael Nadal is a person who has been totally committed to his career since he was very young. Since he was 17, I believe."
128036 Rafaelnadal is a main belt asteroid discovered in 2003 at the Observatorio Astronómico de Mallorca and named after Nadal.
Off the court
Involvement in football
Nadal is an avid fan of association football club Real Madrid. On 8 July 2010, it was reported that he had become a shareholder of RCD Mallorca, his local club by birth, in an attempt to assist the club from debt. Nadal reportedly owns 10 percent and was offered the role of vice president, which he rejected. His uncle Miguel Ángel Nadal became assistant coach under Michael Laudrup. Nadal remains a passionate Real Madrid supporter; ESPN.com writer Graham Hunter wrote, "He's as Merengue as [Real Madrid icons] Raúl, Iker Casillas and Alfredo Di Stéfano."
Shortly after acquiring his interest in Mallorca, Nadal called out UEFA for apparent hypocrisy in ejecting the club from the 2010–11 UEFA Europa League for excessive debts, saying through a club spokesperson, "Well, if those are the criteria upon which UEFA is operating, then European competition will only comprise two or three clubs because all the rest are in debt, too."
He is a fervent supporter of the Spanish national team, and he was one of six people not affiliated with the team or the national federation allowed to enter the team's locker room following Spain's victory in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Final.
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. "For me it's an honour to part of this project", said Nadal. "It's a very good project. I want to congratulate the Thai people and congratulate the King for this unbelievable day. I wish all the best for this idea. It's very, very nice."
Fundación Rafa Nadal
The creation of the Fundación Rafa Nadal took place in November 2007, and its official presentation was in February 2008, at the Manacor Tennis Club in Mallorca, Spain. The foundation will focus on social work and development aid particularly on childhood and youth. On deciding why to start a foundation, Nadal said "This can be the beginning of my future, when I retire and have more time, [...] I am doing very well and I owe society, [...] A month-and-a-half ago I was in Chennai, in India. The truth is we live great here....I can contribute something with my image..." Nadal was inspired by the Red Cross benefit match against malaria with Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, recalling, "We raised an amount of money that we would never have imagined. I have to thank Iker, my project partner, who went all out for it, [...] That is why the time has come to set up my own foundation and determine the destination of the money."
Nadal's mother, Ana Maria Parera, chairs the charitable organization and father Sebastian is vice-chairman. Coach and uncle Toni Nadal and his agent, former tennis player Carlos Costa, are also involved. Roger Federer has given Nadal advice on getting involved in philanthropy. Despite the fact that poverty in India struck him particularly hard, Nadal wants to start by helping "people close by, in the Balearic Islands, in Spain, and then, if possible, abroad".
On 16 October 2010, Nadal traveled to India for the first time to visit his tennis academy for underprivileged children at Anantapur Sports Village, in the Anantapur City, Andhra Pradesh. His foundation has also worked in the Anantapur Educational Center project, in collaboration with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.
Nadal lived with his parents and younger sister Maria Isabel in a five-story apartment building in their hometown of Manacor, Mallorca. 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.
Nadal has revealed himself to be agnostic. 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".
In addition to tennis and football, Nadal also enjoys playing golf and poker. In April 2014 he played the world's number 1 female poker player, Vanessa Selbst, in a poker game in Monaco. Nadal's autobiography, Rafa (Hyperion, 2012, ISBN 1-4013-1092-3), written with assistance from John Carlin, was published in August 2011. Nadal has been dating long-time girlfriend María Francisca (Xisca) Perelló since 2005.
Grand Slam tournament performance timeline
|Australian Open||A||3R||4R||A||QF||SF||W||QF||QF||F||A||F||QF||1R||F||QF||1 / 13||55–12||82.1|
|French Open||A||A||W||W||W||W||4R||W||W||W||W||W||QF||3R||W||10 / 13||79–2||97.5|
|Wimbledon||3R||A||2R||F||F||W||A||W||F||2R||1R||4R||2R||A||4R||2 / 12||43–10||81.1|
|US Open||2R||2R||3R||QF||4R||SF||SF||W||F||A||W||A||3R||4R||W||3 / 13||53–10||84.1|
|Win–Loss||3–2||3–2||13–3||17–2||20–3||24–2||15–2||25–1||23–3||14–2||14–1||16–2||11–4||5–2||23–2||4–1||16 / 51||230–34||87.12|
*Nadal withdrew from the 2016 French Open because of a wrist injury, having won his opening two rounds.
- Finals: 23 (16 titles, 7 runner-ups)
|Winner||2005||French Open||Clay||Mariano Puerta||6–7(6–8), 6–3, 6–1, 7–5|
|Winner||2006||French Open (2)||Clay||Roger Federer||1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6(7–4)|
|Runner-up||2006||Wimbledon||Grass||Roger Federer||0–6, 6–7(5–7), 7–6(7–2), 3–6|
|Winner||2007||French Open (3)||Clay||Roger Federer||6–3, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4|
|Runner-up||2007||Wimbledon||Grass||Roger Federer||6–7(7–9)6–4, 6–7(3–7), 6–2, 2–6|
|Winner||2008||French Open (4)||Clay||Roger Federer||6–1, 6–3, 6–0|
|Winner||2008||Wimbledon||Grass||Roger Federer||6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 6–7(8–10), 9–7|
|Winner||2009||Australian Open||Hard||Roger Federer||7–5, 3–6, 7–6(7–3), 3–6, 6–2|
|Winner||2010||French Open (5)||Clay||Robin Söderling||6–4, 6–2, 6–4|
|Winner||2010||Wimbledon (2)||Grass||Tomáš Berdych||6–3, 7–5, 6–4|
|Winner||2010||US Open||Hard||Novak Djokovic||6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 6–2|
|Winner||2011||French Open (6)||Clay||Roger Federer||7–5, 7–6(7–3), 5–7, 6–1|
|Runner-up||2011||Wimbledon||Grass||Novak Djokovic||4–6, 1–6, 6–1, 3–6|
|Runner-up||2011||US Open||Hard||Novak Djokovic||2–6, 4–6, 7–6(7–3), 1–6|
|Runner-up||2012||Australian Open||Hard||Novak Djokovic||7–5, 4–6, 2–6, 7–6(7–5), 5–7|
|Winner||2012||French Open (7)||Clay||Novak Djokovic||6–4, 6–3, 2–6, 7–5|
|Winner||2013||French Open (8)||Clay||David Ferrer||6–3, 6–2, 6–3|
|Winner||2013||US Open (2)||Hard||Novak Djokovic||6–2, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1|
|Runner-up||2014||Australian Open||Hard||Stan Wawrinka||3–6, 2–6, 6–3, 3–6|
|Winner||2014||French Open (9)||Clay||Novak Djokovic||3–6, 7–5, 6–2, 6–4|
|Runner-up||2017||Australian Open||Hard||Roger Federer||4–6, 6–3, 1–6, 6–3, 3–6|
|Winner||2017||French Open (10)||Clay||Stan Wawrinka||6–2, 6–3, 6–1|
|Winner||2017||US Open (3)||Hard||Kevin Anderson||6–3, 6–3, 6–4|
All-time tournament records
|Tournament||Since||Record accomplished||Players matched|
|Grand Slam||1877||10 Men's Singles titles at one Major||Stands alone|
|10 consecutive years of winning 1+ title (2005–2014)|
|Winning titles on 3 different surfaces in a calendar year|
|3 consecutive titles on 3 different surfaces|
|French Open||1925||10 Men's Singles titles|
|ATP Masters 1000||1970||Most Men's singles titles at a single event (Monte-Carlo Masters)|
|10 consecutive seasons with 1+ men's singles titles (2005–14)|
|21 consecutive quarterfinals (2008–2010)|
|Monte Carlo Masters||1897||10 Men's Singles titles|
|Barcelona Open||1953||10 Men's Singles titles|
|Rome Masters||1930||7 Men's Singles titles|
|Madrid Open||2002||5 Men's Singles titles|
Open Era records
- These records were attained in the Open Era of tennis.
- Records in bold indicate peer-less achievements.
- Records in italics are currently active streaks.
- ^ Denotes consecutive streak.
|Time span||Selected Grand Slam tournament records||Players matched||Refs|
|2005 French Open –
2010 US Open
|Career Golden Slam||Andre Agassi|
|Career Grand Slam||Rod Laver
|Youngest to achieve a Career Grand Slam (24)||Stands alone|
|2+ titles on grass, clay and hard courts||Mats Wilander|
|2007 French Open –
2017 French Open
|6 finals reached without losing a set||Roger Federer|
|2008 French Open –
2017 French Open
|3 titles won without losing a set||Björn Borg|
|2008 French Open –
2009 Australian Open
|Simultaneous holder of Majors on clay, grass and hard court||Roger Federer
|Simultaneous holder of Olympic singles gold medal and Majors on clay, grass and hard court||Stands alone|
|2010 French Open –
2010 US Open
|Winner of Majors on clay, grass and hard court in calendar year|
|2011 Wimbledon –
2012 Australian Open
|3 consecutive runners-up finishes|
|Grand Slam tournaments||Time Span||Records at each Grand Slam tournament||Players matched||Refs|
|French Open||2005–2017||10 titles overall||Stands alone|
|2010–2014||5 consecutive titles|
|2005–2017||10 finals overall|
|2010–2014||5 consecutive finals|
|2005–2017||10 semifinals overall|
|2005–2017||79 match wins overall|
|2010–2015||39 consecutive match wins|
|2005–2016||97.5% (79–2) match winning percentage|
|2008, 2010, 2017||3 titles won without losing a set|
|2005||Won title on the first attempt||Mats Wilander|
|French Open—Wimbledon||2008, 2010||Accomplished a "Channel Slam": Winning both tournaments in the same year||Rod Laver
|Time span||Other selected records||Players matched||Refs|
|ATP Masters 1000 records|
|2005–2017||30 combined Championship Masters Series titles||Novak Djokovic|
|2013||4 consecutive Masters 1000 titles||Novak Djokovic|
|2005–2013||All 9 Masters 1000 finals reached||Roger Federer
|2010||Accomplished a "Clay Slam"||Stands alone|
|2005–2017||10 Monte-Carlo Masters titles||Stands alone|
|2005–2013||7 Rome Masters titles||Stands alone|
|2004–2017||53 clay court titles||Stands alone|
|2005–2007||81 consecutive clay court match victories||Stands alone|
|2004–2013||19 match wins against world No. 1 players||Boris Becker|
|2002–2014||91.75% (389–35) clay court match winning percentage||Stands alone|
|2005–2017||10 titles at a single tournament (Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Roland Garros)||Stands alone|
|2005–2012||8 consecutive titles at a single tournament (Monte Carlo)||Stands alone|
|2004–2006||16 titles won as a teenager||Björn Borg|