Rafael "Rafa" Nadal Parera (Catalan pronunciation: [rəˈfɛɫ nəˈðaɫ pəˈɾeɾə]; Spanish pronunciation: [rafaˈel naˈðal paˈɾeɾa]; born 3 June 1986) is a Spanish professional tennis player currently ranked No. 1 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time; his success on clay has earned him the nickname "The King of Clay", and has prompted many experts to regard him as the greatest clay court player of all time. Nadal has won nine Grand Slam singles titles, the 2008 Olympic gold medal in singles, a record 19 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, and also was part of the Spain Davis Cup team that won the finals in 2004, 2008 and 2009. He completed the career Grand Slam by winning the 2010 US Open, being the seventh player in history, and the youngest in the open era, to achieve it. He is the second male player to complete the Career Golden Slam (winner of the four grand slams and the Olympic Gold medal) after only Andre Agassi. Nadal had a 32 match winning streak in 2008, starting at the 2008 Masters Series Hamburg to the 2008 Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women's Open, which included titles at Hamburg, the French Open (where he did not drop a set), Queen's Club, his first ever title at Wimbledon, and the Rogers Cup. In 2011, by winning the Monte Carlo Masters, he became the only player to have won seven editions of a tournament in a row at the ATP level.
Nadal was ranked world No. 2, behind Roger Federer, for a record 160 consecutive weeks before earning the top spot, which he held from 18 August 2008 to 5 July 2009. He regained the world No.1 ranking on 7 June 2010, after winning his fifth French Open title.
Rafael Nadal was born in Manacor, Majorca, Spain to Sebastián Nadal, a businessman managing his own restaurant, Sa Punta; a glass and window glass company, Vidres Mallorca; and owns an insurance company as well. 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 champion Pat Cash in a clay-court exhibition match.
At 15, he turned pro. Nadal participated in two events on the ITF junior circuit. In 2002, at the age of 16, Nadal reached the semifinals of the Boy's Singles tournament at Wimbledon, in his first ITF junior event.
By the age of 17, he beat Federer the first time they played and became the youngest man to reach the third round at Wimbledon since Boris Becker. At 18, he helped pace Spain over the US in the junior Davis Cup in his second, and final, appearance on the ITF junior circuit. 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. Nadal was ranked in the world's top 50 players. In 2003, he had won the ATP Newcomer of the Year Award. Early in his career, Nadal picked up the trademark habit of biting the trophies he won.
In 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. During 2004, Nadal played his first match against world No. 1 Roger Federer at the 2004 Miami Masters, and won in straight sets. He is one of the six players that 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.
At the 2005 Australian Open, Nadal lost in the 4th 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
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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 6–0, 7–6(5), 6–7(2), 6–3 to win his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title.
During the leadup 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, Ohio. 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 6–4, 7–6. 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 6–4, 7–5. 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.
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 Majorca, 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, Ohio. 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 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".
2008Nadal 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 6–2, 6–3, 6–2 in the semifinal of 2008 Australian Open. Tsonga's semifinal performance was characterized by his powerful and precise serve, finesse volleys, and aggressive baseline play; it was a performance that drew the Melbourne crowd to their feet. Tsonga did not face a break point until the third set, while breaking the Spaniard five times in the match. 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. He won in straight sets, despite Federer's holding a 4–0 lead in the second set. 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 the 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 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 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 1978–80, (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 is also the first time that Nadal won two Grand Slams 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, 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 the world No. 1 ranking on 18 August, officially ending Federer's record four-and-a-half year reign at the top.