The Tennis Greats: Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal is a Spanish tennis player, who has consistently ranked within the top two in the world.
Nadal was born in Mallorca (an island just off the Spanish mainland) in June 1986. He played both tennis and football as a child, but chose to specialize in tennis when he reached the age of 11. He was (and still is) coached by his Uncle, Toni Nadal – and it is Toni Nadal who is credited with making the most beneficial change to Rafael’s game.
Rafael Nadal is naturally right-handed, but he plays tennis with his left hand. This was a masterstroke by Toni Nadal, who decided that a left-handed player would be more threatening – a concept that has come to fruition. As a left-hander, Nadal is rare on the tour and thus has an immediate edge over his opponents, who are used to serving to a right-handed player – thus they are more likely to serve to his ‘strongest’ side.
Nadal has earned the nickname the ‘King of Clay’ due to his incredible run of victories on the surface. In 2010, he became the first man to win all three clay court Masters events (Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid) along with the clay court Grand Slam, the French Open. That French Open title was his fifth win at the tournament; he has only lost there once, in 2009, due to injury.
Nadal is not a one-surface player however; he has also won a Grand Slam on hard court (the Australian Open, in 2009) and the summer of 2010 saw him win his second grass-court Wimbledon title, all before the age of 25.