Family and early life 3
Rafael Nadal Parera (born 3 June 1986) is a Spanish professional tennis player who has been ranked World No. 1 since 18 August 2008. He has won five Grand Slam singles titles and the 2008 Olympic gold medal in singles. He has captured the lastfour French Open singles titles, joining Björn Borg in 2008 as the only men to have won four consecutive singles titles there. In 2008, Nadal became the second Spaniard to win Wimbledon. Nadal is the only player in the open era to have won the French Open, the AEGON Championships (held at Queen's Club on grass beginning the day after the French Open), and Wimbledon in the same year.
For much ofhis career, Nadal has had a rivalry with Roger Federer, which many critics consider to be the greatest rivalry in tennis history. They are the only men in the open era who have played each other in six Grand Slam finals, with Nadal winning four of those matches. Nadal was ranked World No. 2 behind Federer for a record 160 weeks before earning the top spot. Nadal has won 12 of their 18 singlesmatches.
He has been especially successful on clay courts. He has a 22–1 record in clay court tournament finals and is undefeated in 43 best-of-five-set matches on clay. In each of the last four years, he has won both the French Open and two clay court Masters Series tournaments. He also owns the longest single-surface winning streak in the open era, having won 81 consecutive matches on clay fromApril 2005 to May 2007. As a result, some tennis critics and top players already regard him as the greatest clay-court player of all time.
On 18 October 2008, Nadal clinched the year-end World No. 1 ranking for 2008. The same year, he was given the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for his achievements in sports
Family and early life
Rafael Nadal was born in Manacor, Majorca toSebastián Nadal and Ana María Parera. He has a younger sister named María Isabel. His uncle, Miguel Ángel Nadal, is a retired professional football player, having played for RCD Mallorca, FC Barcelona, and the Spanish national team. Nadal supports football clubs Real Madrid and RCD Mallorca. His other uncle, Toni Nadal, a former professional tennis player, introduced him to tennis when he was three years.Toni Nadal has been coaching him ever since. Toni spotted that Nadal had a natural talent for tennis, and at eight he won an under-12 year regional tennis championship at a time where he was also a promising football player. This made Toni Nadal intensify training, and at that time he encouraged Nadal to play left handed, as he noticed Nadal played forehand shots with two hands. The naturalright-handed Nadal took the advice. 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 suffer. Nadal said: "I chose tennis. Football had to stop straight away".
When he was 14, the Spanish tennis federation requested that he leftMallorca and moved to Barcelona to continue his tennis progression and training. Nadal's family turned down this request. Partly because they feared it would hurt his education, but also because Toni Nadal 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 house." The decision to stay home meant that Nadal received lessfinancial support from the federation; instead Nadal's father covered the costs. Although Toni Nadal was his primary coach, he also trained at Nick Bollettieri's tennis camp in Florida for portions of two summers in his early teens. In May 2001, he defeated Grand Slam champion Pat Cash in a clay-court exhibition match. By the age of 16, Nadal was ranked in the world's top 50 players.