Sunday, December 27, 2009
Rafael "Rafa" Nadal Parera(born 3 June 1986) is a former World No. 1 Spanish professional tennis player, currently ranked #2. Nadal has won six Grand Slam singles titles, the 2008 Olympic gold medal in singles and also was part of the Spain Davis Cup team that won the finals in 2004 and 2009.
Nadal was ranked World Number #1 from 18 August 2008 to 5 July 2009. In 2009, he became the first player to simultaneously hold Grand Slam titles on clay, grass and hardcourt. His success on clay has earned him the nickname "The King of Clay".
Nadal was ranked World No. 2, behind Roger Federer for a record 160 weeks before earning the top spot. He has subsequently lost this position again to Federer following the Swiss player's triumphs at the 2009 Madrid Open (where Federer beat Nadal in the final), the French Open and Wimbledon, as well as Nadal's own withdrawal from Wimbledon due to injury. In 2008, Nadal was given the Prince of Asturias Award for Sports, in recognition of his achievements in tennis.
Family and early life
Rafael Nadal was born in Manacor, Majorca to Sebastián Nadal and Ana María Parera. He has a younger sister named María Isabel. His uncle, Miguel Ángel Nadal, is a retired professional football (soccer) player, having played for RCD Mallorca, FC Barcelona, and the Spanish national team. Nadal supports football clubs Real Madrid and RCD Mallorca. Recognizing that Rafael had a natural talent for tennis, his other uncle, Toni Nadal, a former professional tennis player, introduced him to tennis when he was three years old. Toni Nadal has been coaching him ever since.
At age eight, Nadal 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—for a natural advantage on the tennis court, as he noticed Nadal played forehand shots with two hands. 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 deteriorate entirely. Nadal said: "I chose tennis. Football had to stop straight away."
When he was 14, the Spanish tennis federation requested that he leave Mallorca and move 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 home." The decision to stay home meant that Nadal received less financial support from the federation; instead Nadal's father covered the costs. In May 2001, he defeated former Grand Slam champion Pat Cash in a clay-court exhibition match. By the age of 17, Nadal was ranked in the world's top 50 players.
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