Rafael Nadal

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Rafael “Rafa” Nadal Parera (Catalan: [rəf(ə)ˈɛl nəˈðal pəˈɾeɾə]Spanish: [rafaˈel naˈðal paˈɾeɾa]; born 3 June 1986) is a Spanish professional tennis player. He is ranked No. 2 in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), has been ranked No. 1 in the ATP rankings for 209 weeks, and has finished as the year-end No. 1 five times. Nadal has won 20 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, tied for the most in history with Roger Federer. His 13 French Open titles in particular are a record at any tournament. Nadal’s dominance on clay is also highlighted by 60 of his 86 ATP singles titles coming on this surface, including 25 of his 35 ATP Masters 1000 titles, and his 81 consecutive wins on clay is the longest single-surface win streak in the Open Era.

From childhood through most of his professional career, Nadal was coached by his uncle Toni. He was one of the most successful teenagers in ATP Tour history, reaching No. 2 in the world at age 19 and winning 16 titles, including his first French Open and six Masters events. Nadal became No. 1 for the first time in 2008 after his first major victory off clay against the longtime top-ranked Federer, his only main rival through 2010, in a historic Wimbledon final. He also won an Olympic gold medal in singles that year in Beijing, and then completed the career Grand Slam at the 2010 US Open in the only year where he won three majors. With his Olympic gold medal, he is also one of only two male players to complete the career Golden Slam.

In the next decade, Novak Djokovic emerged as Nadal’s primary rival. The two of them have faced each other 56 times, the most in men’s tennis history and including nine major finals. Since Djokovic defeated Nadal in three consecutive major finals in-between the 2011 and 2012 French Open tournaments, Nadal has struggled at Wimbledon and has not won another Australian Open. He has continued his dominance at the French Open by winning at least four consecutive titles a second and a third time, while also winning three more US Open titles. He tied Federer’s record for the most Grand Slam men’s singles titles at the 2020 French Open.

Nadal is the only left-handed member of the Big Three. One of his main strengths is his forehand, which he routinely hits with extremely heavy topspin at difficult angles to return. He is one of the best at breaking serve, regularly appearing among the tour leaders in percentage of return games, return points, and break points won. Nadal has won the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award four times, and was the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year in 2011. Representing Spain, he has an Olympic gold medal in both singles and doubles. He has also led the Spain Davis Cup team to five titles while playing alongside fellow top 10 players including David Ferrer and his future coach Carlos Moyá. Outside of competing, Nadal opened a tennis academy in his hometown of Mallorca, and is also an active philanthropist.

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