Rafael Nadal

Tennis-Star-Rafael-NadalRafael Nadal, nicknamed “Rafa”, with six Grand Slam singles titles thus far, is currently the World No.2 tennis player after ruling the No.1 slot for nearly a year (Aug 18, 2008 to July 5, 2009). Dubbed as “King of Clay” for his enormous success on clay courts, Nadal is now one of the few Spanish professional tennis players with such success on the board.

He was born on June 3rd, 1986 in Manacor, Majorca (in the Mediterranean Ocean off the coast of Spain) with the name Rafael Nadal Parera. When he was just 4 years of age, he had penchant for both football and tennis, but eventually opted tennis and ever since has been coached by his uncle Toni, who is himself a former tennis player.

His early success, especially in regional tournaments and then the Spanish and European tennis titles at the mere age of 12 were signs of his future potential. In April 2001, when he was just 14 years and 10 months, Nadal won his first ATP match and then two challenger titles in the next year brought him into the league of world’s top 100 players.

At age 16, Rafa made his first Wimbledon appearance in 2003 and became the youngest player to reach the third round since Boris Baker in 1984 [Baker, the German, is a six time Grand Slam singles champion and an Olympic gold medalist]. However, his first notable success came at the 2004 Miami Masters, in which he defeated one of the greatest Roger Federer in their first head-to-head.

By beating the then World No.2 Andy Roddick in 2004 final of Davis Cup, Nadal earned the title for Spain over the United States with a 3-2 win. In his first (2005) Australian Open, Rafa lost in the fourth round, but reached the final of Miami Masters in the same year. It was the 2005 French Open, when the Spaniard first defeated Federer in the semifinal and ultimately went on to winning the title.

The year 2006 was quite significant for Nadal, opening with a major victory in the final of Dubai Duty Free Men’s Open on March 4 by defeating Roger Federer. He then defeated the Swiss thrice more in the same year, including at the final of Monte Carlo Masters and the Masters Series in Rome. However, it was the French Open where he defeated Federer in a Grand Slam for the very first time, taking the rivalry to the next level.

Nadal again won the French Open in 2007 defeating Federer but lost to the rival at the Wimbledon in a five-set final. The year 2008 was another testimony of his rising superiority in tennis circuit when he again overpowered Roger in the third consecutive French Open and then the Wimbledon in an epic run. With this, he became the second Spaniard to win the Wimbledon after Manuel Santana in 1966.

The Spaniard, in continuation of his winning streak, won the 2008 Beijing Olympics Gold Medal and then the US Open. In the following year, he registered a victory over Federer in the hard court Grand Slam, thereby becoming the first Spaniard to win the Australian Open. Despite playing and winning major events on three different surfaces, he is still regarded as one of the best on clay.

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