Rafael Nadal: The Unbelievable Life And Career Of The Spanish Tennis Legend

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is the undisputed GOAT of clay court tennis and one of the three GOATs of tennis overall (along with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer). He has won a staggering 14 French Open titles and 22 Grand Slams in total (the most by any male player in tennis history). He is also one of the two players (along with Novak Djokovic) to win every Grand Slam at least two times. Rafael Nadal is the Spanish tennis player with the highest number of individual titles, the most Grand Slam titles, the most Masters 1000 titles, and the most weeks at number 1 in the ATP world ranking and the only tennis player in the history of tennis to be number 1 in three different decades: 2000s, 2010s and 2020s. Superlatives fall short when it comes to describing the career of a legend like Rafael Nadal. The list of achievements of the beast out of Mallorca is endless and it can fill up several web servers. However, we will try to skim the surface and give you a small taste of the greatness of Rafael Nadal in this post. Let’s get started.

Rafael Nadal: All You Need To Know

How was Rafael Nadal’s childhood?

Rafael Nadal is the son of Sebastian Nadal, businessman and Ana María Parera. He has a younger sister named María Isabel. Rafael Nadal was born on June 3, 1986 in Manacor, Mallorca, Spain.

His father made him a fan of Real Madrid, despite the fact that his brother, Miguel Angel Nadal, Rafa’s uncle, was part of the FC Barcelona Dream Team in the nineties.

As a child he practiced all kinds of sports, standing out as a footballer in lower categories until he opted for tennis. Coincidentally, Nadal plays left-handed by choice, his coach advised him to choose one of the two hands while learning and he decided to go with his left. However, he remains right-handed in his daily life.

How did Rafael Nadal start his tennis career?

Rafael Nadal’s game is a mixture of skill and unmatched physicality. Nadal’s ability to chase down just about every shot ensures that his opponents have to try and hit five-six winners-type shots to win a single point against him. He won his first tournament at the age of eight, in the Balearic Islands and a Spanish Championship when he was 11.

Complete from the back of the court, he is fast and has a backhand that is as good as his forehand. While his serve isn’t the best on the tour, Nadal stands out for his grit and his enormous winning spirit on the court, something that he transmits to the public.

Excluding Michael Chang, he is the player who entered the earliest, at 17, in the select list of the 100 best tennis players in the world drawn up by the ATP. And at seventeen, he managed to reach the third round of Wimbledon. Before Nadal, only Boris Becker had achieved it.

In April 2004, an injury to his left foot separated him from the circuit. They told him it would take six months to recover, but in three and a half he was playing. He trained sitting in a chair so as not to get too out of shape. At 18, he became the new star of Spanish tennis after his great performances in the qualifiers against the Czech Republic in the first round and France in the semifinals. In the Alicante bullring, he led the Spanish victory.

How did Rafael Nadal start his climb to the top of the tennis world?

The name of Rafael Nadal spread to all corners of the world on June 5, 2005 and he rose to third place in the men’s general classification after winning the French Open in singles. His triumph at Roland Garros provided him with a media leap of astronomical proportions.

On August 18, 2008, he occupied the first position in the list of ATP tennis players, from which he unseated Roger Federer. CO incidentally, Federer had spent 237 weeks on top of the rankings before Nadal dethroned him. 2008 proved to be a great year for Nadal. He became world number 1 for the first time, won an Olympic Gold medal, beat Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final and won yet another French Open..

Aside from winning the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Nadal was also a part of the Spanish Davis Cup Team since 2004, winning three times (2004, 2008 and 2009). He first reached number 1 on August 18, 2008. He would later reach number 1 in 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019.

Awards galore

On September 3, 2008, he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports by beating the American swimmer Michael Phelps, after obtaining the vote of 18 of the 24 members of the jury in the last vote. In that same year he also received the Legend Brand and in 2009 the Grand Prix of the French Sports Academy for the greatest sporting achievement in the world in 2008.

Rafael Nadal was rewarded with the Laureus Award to the best international athlete in a spectacular year in 2010, in which he won Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, which allowed him to complete the career Grand Slam, and regain his spot at the top of the ATP rankings. He became the Spanish tennis player with the highest number of individual titles, (surpassing Manuel Orantes and Conchita Martínez, with 33), more Grand Slam titles, (surpassing Manuel Santana and Arantxa Sánchez Vicario, with 4), more Masters 1000 titles, (surpassing Juan Carlos Ferrero, with 4), the one who has spent the most weeks as World No. 1 (46 weeks), and the only one to have won the Australian Open and the gold medal at the Olympic Games.

On June 5, 2011, he added his sixth crown at Roland Garros after beating Roger Federer for the fifth time, the fourth in a Grand Slam final, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 5-7 and 6-1, In three hours and 40 minutes, he equaled Borg’s six titles and Bill Tilden’s ten Grand Slam titles.

On July 3, 2011, he lost Wimbledon and his third Grand Slam final to Novak Djokovic (the new world number one) 6-4, 6-1, 1-6, 6-3. On April 21, 2012, Nadal overwhelmed Novak Djokovic 6-3 and 6-1 and won his eighth consecutive title at the Monte Carlo Masters 1,000, after being beaten in his last seven service games, all of them in tournament finals.

The Spanish tennis player conquered his seventh title at Roland Garros on June 11, 2012, the second grand slam tournament of the season, which allowed him to go past the Swedish legend Bjorn Borg in Paris after beating Serbian Novak Djokovic, number 1 in the world, 6-4, 6-3, 2-6 and 7-5. The Spaniard won in the French capital for the seventh time, breaking the tie he had with Borg, collecting his eleventh major in the process, which cemented him as one of the best in history.

During the months of February and March 2013, when he was on tour, the Spaniard returned to Palma with three titles (Sao Paulo, Acapulco and Indian Wells) and one final (Vina del Mar), regaining fourth place of the ATP and happy because his knee responded very well. On May 12, 2013, he won the Madrid Masters 1000 for the third time after defeating Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka in the final, 6-2, 6-4 in 71 minutes, achieving the 40th title of his career on clay. In August, at the Montreal Masters, he beat Milos Raonic by a double 6-2, after beating Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. On the 19th of this month, he captured the Cincinnati Masters after beating John Isner to regain second place in the ATP. On September 9 he was proclaimed champion of the US Open, once again beating Djokovic in four sets (6-2, 3-6, 6-4 and 6-1), taking his total to 13 Grand Slams.

On October 4, 2013, the Czech Tomas Berdych withdrew from the match he played with Nadal due to a back injury in the semifinals of the Beijing tournament, so the Spaniard, in addition to qualifying for the final, regained the position of number one of the world by unseating Djokovic from this place.

Equalling Sampras


On June 8, 2014, and after four consecutive losses against Novak Djokovic, and in his worst year on clay in recent years, he came back against Djokovic, after losing the first set, and won his fifth Roland Garros title equaling Pete Sampras with 14 grand slams in the process.

Medical issues

In 2015, he started the season at number 3 in the ATP ranking. He underwent surgery in November of the previous year for initial appendicitis and had several weeks of rest. On May 24, Roland Garros began and he attended as the sixth seed, debuting with a victory against the Frenchman Quentin Halys, in the second round he defeated Nicolas Almagro, and in the third round the Russian Andrey Kuznetsov. In the round of 16, he beat Jack Sock, although he lost to Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals (7-5, 6-3, 6-1 in two hours and 25 minutes of play).

On Sunday, April 23, 2017, he won his tenth Monte Carlo title after beating Albert Ramos in the final (6-1 and 6-3, in 1h 15m), becoming the player with the most titles in history (50) on clay. He is the only tennis player who has won the same tournament so many times. On April 30, 2017, he won the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell-Trofeo Conde de Godo for the tenth time in his career by defeating Austrian Dominic Thiem in the final, 6-4, 6-1, in one hour and thirty minutes.

On June 11, 2017, he won his tenth Roland Garros title after defeating Stan Wawrinka 6-2. 6-3 and 6-1, in 2 hours and 5 minutes. Only Margaret Court, in 1971, reached the magic figure of 10 victories at a single grand slam. No man had ever done it before. On September 10, 2017, he signed his third victory at the US Open, after the last one he obtained in 2013. The Spanish defeated the South African Kevin Anderson in the grand final (6-3, 6-3, and 6-4, in 2h 27m).

On June 10, 2018, he achieved his eleventh Roland Garros after subduing Dominic Thiem even with a cramp in his hand, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2, further increasing his legend in Paris. Eleven titles in eleven finals of one of the four Grand Slams.

On June 9, 2019, he beat Thiem 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 and won his twelfth Roland Garros, eighteenth Grand Slam title. He beat Russian star Daniil Medvedev in five sets (7-5, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, and 6-4) in four hours and 49 to win his fourth US Open on September 8, 2019. In the Davis Cup, on November 24, 2019, Nadal closed another excellent season by leading Spain to its sixth title. He beat Denis Shapovalov 6-3, 7-6, and got the final point against Canada.

Thirteenth Roland Garros title

On October 11, 2020, Nadal shredded Novak Djokovic in the French Open final, winning his 13th Roland Garros title in Paris and matching Roger Federer’s 20 grand slam total. He beat the Serbian 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 41 minutes in a very dominant performance. He only made 14 unforced errors, compared to 52 by his rival. He was the flag-bearer of the Spanish delegation for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, he played 23 hours on the court after two months without training. He got a gold medal in doubles and finished fourth in singles.

On April 25, 2021, Rafael Nadal won one of the best finals in the history of the Conde de Godó Tournament(his twelfth Godó), by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 6-7 (6) and 7-5, in three hours and 38 minutes, after raising a match point.

With his victory in three sets against Novak Djokovic on May 16, 2021, he became a 10-time champion in Rome, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2018, 2019 and 2021; 12 in the Conde de Godó and 11 in Montecarlo.

21st Grand Slam

On January 30, 2022, he became Australian Open champion for the second time, becoming the first tennis player to win 21 Grand Slams, ahead of Roger Federer and Noval Djokovic, after defeating Daniil Medvedev in a marathon five setter that lasted for more than five hours. Medvedev seemed like he was going to run away with the final after going up two sets to love at the start. But Rafael Nadal engineered a comeback for the ages and triumphed over the young and talented Russian in the end.

Face to face with Carlos Alcaraz

On Saturday, March 19, 2022, Rafa Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz met in the Indian Wells semifinal. With a difference of 17 years of age, Alcaraz faced the most successful tennis player in history to date, winner of 21 Grand Slam titles, undefeated throughout 2022, with 19 wins and three added titles that make a total of 91, against the great sensation of the moment, the youngest winner of an ATP500 in Rio de Janeiro, the racket that already has four victories against rivals located among the top 10 in the ranking, has already secured its jump from 19th to 15th place in the ranking. Finally, Nadal won 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 after three hours and 12 minutes of a formidable match in which he was pushed to the maximum. He reached the final and disputed the final against the American Taylor Fritz .That ended the winning streak of the Spanish after defeating him 6-3 and 7-6.

He faced Alcaraz again in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Masters 1000. This time, he lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.

14th Roland Garros title

On Friday, June 3, 2022, he turned 36, and on the 5th, Rafa Nadal won his 14th Roland Garros title. The Spanish tennis player never lost a final in the Philippe Chatrier court and in this one, he overwhelmed the Norwegian Casper Ruud adding 14 titles in Paris and 22 Grand Slams. He took the first set with relative ease 6-3 and from then on everything fell under his own weight. 6-3 in the second and 6-0 in the third to defeat Ruud. This resulted in Rafael Nadal’s 22nd Grand Slam title and put him two slams clear of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic who both have 20 Grand Slams each.

Rafael Nadal Foundation


The Rafa Nadal Foundation was officially unveiled in February 2008, at the Manacor Tennis Club in Mallorca, Spain. The foundation is dedicated to social work and development aid, especially in childhood and youth.

Other activities of Rafael Nadal

In 2010, he became a shareholder of RCD Mallorca, trying to help the football club financially. His uncle, Miguel Angel Nadal, became the assistant coach of Michael Laudrup.

In 2014, the Mundo Deportivo newspaper named him the Best Spanish Athlete, and Laureus World Sports recognized him as the Best Comeback of the Year (2013). On May 1, 2015, he was awarded the Gold Medal for Merit at Work, approved on June 23, 2014, for his conduct, effort and dedication.

Who is Rafael Nadal’s wife?

Rafael Nadal has been in a relationship with María Francisca Perello, known as “Mery” and “Xisca”, who works at the Rafa Nadal Foundation as director of Social Integration.

Rafa Nadal and Maria Perello were married on Saturday, October 19, 2019, at the Sa Fortaleza estate, a building located in Punta Avancada, a small peninsula overlooking the Bay of Pollensa.

Being the girlfriend of an artist, athlete or any other character who is famous worldwide is not an easy task; It is there where the true love and unconditional support of the couple is put to the test. This has been a great example of Rafael Nadal’s girlfriend, María Francisca “Xisca” Perello who has been around long before Nadal became the best tennis player in the world.

In order to understand the work of this athlete, Xisca Perello’s company also has Nadal’s mother in which both share jobs in the foundation and accompany the player in some of his games. Over the years they have become great friends and are part of the support that the tennis player needs to move forward.

Rafael Nadal’s mother, Ana María Parera is the president of the foundation that bears her son’s name and his girlfriend Xisca Perello has become the director of projects in said organization. Their relationship began in 2005 when they started dating and to this day it remains intact, due to the discretion they have had regarding their private life.

Although like every couple it has its ups and downs, in the life of these characters it seems not to be noticed; They have not shown moments of crisis or temporary ruptures, but on the contrary, they show to be somewhat relaxed, since there is no intention of reaching the altar, but that has not been an impediment to being happy as they have shown, which can be considered in these moments as a consolidated marriage.

What are some of Rafael Nadal’s records?

As for Rafael Nadal’s records, it’s impossible to name every single one of his achievements in one post. However, it’s good to mention the combined domination of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic. The three have won a combined 63 out of the last 75 Grand Slam finals. At least one of them has featured in 70 out of the 75 Grand Slam Finals played. Of Djokovic’s 11 losses, six have come against Federer or Nadal. Out of Federer’s 11 Grand Slam final losses, 10 have come against Nadal or Djokovic. Out of Nadal’s eight Grand Slam final losses, seven have come against Federer and Djokovic. 

The Most outstanding aspect of Nadal’s glittering tennis career is his success at Roland Garros. He has absolutely owned the French Open since he won his first title there. In the year 2005, the time of his debut, he became the second player to win the Roland Garros, he also equaled the number of consecutive titles with Bjorn Borg, also in 2008, he became the fifth player in history to win a Grand Slam without giving up any set during the entire tournament.

Likewise, in the same year 2008, he won Roland Garros and Wimbledon after tennis players Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver, becoming the third player to achieve this feat.

He became the only player to win 4 Masters 1000 tournaments in the same season, as well as the only player to win the Masters 1000 Monte Carlo tournament for five consecutive years. In addition, he was the winner of the three Masters 1000 that took place on clay and the second tennis player to win the singles and doubles at the Masters 1000.

Another record that can be added to Rafael Nadal is the 160 weeks that he remained in second place in the ATP ranking; In addition to obtaining more titles as a “teenager” in a single season and on clay, he achieved more consecutive victories on the same surface.

How is Rafael Nadal’s new house?

Rafael Nadal made the purchase of a mansion that has direct access to the sea for less than the price offered, on a page of the most recognized real estate magazine in the country. This is located in his hometown Manacos, Mallorca and the original price amounted to 5.9 million euros and was acquired by the Spanish tennis player for a price of a little more than four million euros.

However, this purchase was of great joy to the neighbors as they intended to sell the property to someone who wanted to build a building. So, this mansion has a 1200 square metre built up area and a total plot size of 7,000 square metres. It contains several rooms with fireplaces, three living rooms, an attic and a garage, in addition to having a spectacular view of the sea and being closer to Nadal’s relatives.

Which tennis racket does Rafael Nadal use?

Rafael Nadal plays with Babolat rackets. In 2018, he used his tenth racket in honor of his tenth French Open title. This racket was called Pure Aero Decima commemorating his ten French Open titles.

In this way, the racket had colours that represent the flag of Nadal’s home country of Spain, also the color of clay and other details such as the Musketeers Cup. It is important to point out that, from its beginnings to the present, Rafael Nadal has decided to add two grams to his racket, to which the director of the firm Eric Babolat explained: “And when we understood how far it would go, we decided to design a new racket completely adapted to his game, that is, a racket that favors power and spin”.

This is how the new Aero Pro Drive was born, currently Pure Aero, in charge of designing the new tennis racket with an aerodynamic section, which allowed the incorporation of a small portion of the lead to increase the effect and its power. The first adjustments to the racket were made in 2012, after suffering several defeats at the hands of Novak Djokovic, so he decided to add 3 more grams.

With that, Rafael Nadal finally got a racket that had the personalization of Rafael Nadal himself with the colors yellow and orange, clay where the tennis player has been champion several times; in addition to the ten Grand Slam trophies at Roland Garros.

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