One of the many names that add suspense, excitement and trigger in the game of tennis is notably Spanish professional tennis player, Rafael Nadal Parera. He is currently ranked world No. 2 for a total of 196 weeks. We looked into the life of this young lad who grew up from the Manacor region of Spain into a globally renowned sports star. Our analysis includes his victories, defeats and achievements in our Rafael Nadal biography facts, childhood and personal life.

Rafael Nadal Biography Facts

Full Name Rafael Nadal Parera
Nickname King of clay, El Nino, Rafa, Rafi
Birthday June 3, 1986 (age 32)
Place of Birth Manacor, Mallorca, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Height 6 feet 1 inch
Shoe Size 10
Weight 188 Ibs (85 kg)
Education European University of Madrid (doctoral degree)
Parents Sebastian Nadal (father), Ana Maria Parera (mother)
Siblings Maria Isabel (Younger Sister)
Spouse Xisca Perelló (partner/girlfriend)
Children N/A
Net Worth $160 million
Occupation Tennis Player
Playing Career 2002–present
Zodiac Sign Gemini

Rafael Nadal Childhood and Early Life

Rafael Nadal was born on June 3, 1986, in Manacor, a town on the island of Mallorca in the Balearic Islands, Spain to parents Ana Maria Parera and Sebastian Nadal. His father is a businessman, owner of an insurance company, glass and window company Vidres Mallorca, and the restaurant, Sa Punta. Rafael has a younger sister, Maria Isabel.

Rafael Nadal Childhood photo
Rafael Nadal playing Tennis during his childhood/early years

His uncle, Toni Nadal, a former professional tennis player, noticing Rafael natural potential, introduced him to tennis when he was three years old. At age 8, he won an under-12 regional championship at a time when he was also a promising football player. This made his uncle 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 he was 14, his glowing talents caught the eyes of the Spanish tennis federation and they requested that he leave Mallorca and move to Barcelona to continue his tennis training. His family turned down this request, partly because they feared his education would suffer, but also because his uncle Toni 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 at home meant less financial support from the federation, so his father covered the costs. In May 2001, he defeated former Grand Slam tournament champion Pat Cash in a clay-court exhibition match.

Rafael Nadal Tennis Career

Nadal turned professional at age 15 and participated in two events on the ITF junior circuit. On 29 April 2002, at 15 years and 10 months, the world No. 762 Nadal won his first ATP match, defeating Ramon Delgado, and became the ninth player in the Open Era to do so before the age of 15.

At age 16, 2002 Nadal reached the semifinals of the boys’ Singles tournament at Wimbledon, in his first ITF junior event. In the same year, he helped Spain defeat the US in the final of the Junior Davis Cup in his second, and final, appearance on the ITF junior circuit. Nadal’s Challenger level record in 2002 was 4-2 in singles with no title. He did not participate in any doubles Challengers events. Nadal finished the year with a Futures record of 40-9 in singles and 10-9 in doubles. He won 6 singles tournament at this level, including 5 on clay and 1 on hard courts. He did not reach any doubles finals.

In 2003, Nadal won two Challenger titles and finished the year ranked No. 49. He won the ATP Newcomer of the year award. In his Wimbledon debut in 2003, he became the youngest man to reach the third round since Boris Becker in 1984. Nadal finished his 2003 campaign with three first-round losses in ATP events, competed in seven doubles tournaments in 2003, and won his first ATP title (doubles or singles) at the clay-court Croatia Open in Umag.

In 2005, he dominated the spring clay court season that year. He won 24 consecutive singles matches, breaking Andre Agassi’s Open Era record of consecutive match wins for a male teenager. Nadal won eleven singles titles and four ATP Masters Series titles in 2005. Nadal broke Mats Wilander’s previous teenage record of nine in 1983. Nine of Nadal’s titles were on clay, and the remainder were on hard courts. Nadal won 79 matches, second only to Federer’s 81. Nadal won the Golden Bagel Award for 2005, with eleven 6-0 sets during the year. Also, he earned the highest year-end ranking ever by a Spaniard and the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year award.

On European clay in 2006, Nadal won all four tournaments he entered and 24 consecutive matches. After a one-week break, Nadal won the Masters Series Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, defeating Federer in a fifth-set tiebreaker in the final, after saving two match points and equaling Björn Borg’s tally of 16 ATP titles won as a teenager. Nadal broke Argentinian Guillermo Vilas’s 29-year male record of 53 consecutive clay-court match victories by winning his first round match at the French Open.

During the 2008 spring clay-court season, Nadal won four singles titles and defeated Roger Federer in three finals. He beat Federer at the Masters Series Monte Carlo for the third straight year, capturing his Open Era record fourth consecutive title there. Nadal then won his fourth consecutive title at the Open Sabadell Atlantico tournament in Barcelona. A few weeks later, Nadal won his first title at the Masters Series Hamburg, defeating Federer in a three-set final. He then won the French Open, becoming the fifth man in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam singles title without losing a set. This was Nadal’s fourth consecutive French title, tying Björn Borg’s all-time record. Nadal became the fourth male player during the Open era to win the same Grand Slam singles tournament four consecutive years (the others being Borg, Pete Sampras, and Federer).

At the 2009 Australian Open, Nadal won his first five matches without dropping a set, before defeating compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals in the second longest match in Australian Open history at 5 hours and 14 minutes. This win set up a championship match with Roger Federer, their first meeting ever in a hard-court Grand Slam tournament. Nadal defeated Federer in five sets to earn his first hard-court Grand Slam singles title, making him the first Spaniard to win the Australian Open. At the 2009 Indian Wells Masters, Nadal won his thirteenth Masters 1000 series tournament, defeating Murray in the final.

Nadal finished the year as No. 2 for the fourth time in five years.
On 26 May 2016, he became the eighth male player in tennis history to record 200 Grand Slam match wins, as he defeated Facundo Bagnis in straight sets in the second round of the Slam. At the Rio 2016 Olympics, Nadal achieved 800 career wins with his quarterfinal victory over the Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci. Partnering Marc Lopez, he won the gold medal in men’s doubles event for Spain by defeating Romania’s Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau in the finals. This made Nadal the second man in the open era to have won gold medals in both singles and doubles.

Nadal won his 29th Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo in 2017; it was his tenth victory in the principality, the most wins by any player at a single tournament in the Open era. Nadal won his 18th ATP 500 title in Barcelona without dropping a set, also marking his tenth victory in Barcelona. Nadal next played in the Madrid Open, where he defeated Dominic Thiem to tie Novak Djokovic’s all-time Masters’ record of 30 titles.

Rafael Nadal vs Paire, French Open 2017
Rafael Nadal destroying every rival in Paris during the French Open in 2017

At the Monte Carlo Masters 2018, Nadal successfully defended his title and won a record-breaking 31st Masters title, thus becoming the player with the most Masters 1000 titles in tennis history. It also marked his 11th title in Monte Carlo, as well as the 76th title in his career.

Rafael Nadal Personal life

Nadal lived with his parents and younger sister Maria Isabel in a five-story apartment building in their hometown of Manacor, Mallorca. In June 2009, Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia, and then The New York Times, reported that his parents, Ana Maria and Sebastian, had separated. This news came after weeks of speculation in Internet posts and message boards over Nadal’s personal issues as the cause of his setback.

Nadal has said that he is agnostic. As a young boy, he would run home from school to watch Goku in his favourite Japanese anime, Dragon Ball. CNN released an article about Nadal’s childhood inspiration, and called him “the Dragon Ball of tennis” owing to his unorthodox style “from another planet”.

In addition to tennis and football, Nadal enjoys playing golf and poker. In April 2014 he played the world’s No. 1 female poker player, Vanessa Selbst, in a poker game in Monaco. Nadal’s autobiography, written with assistance from John Carlin, was published in August 2011. Nadal has been dating long-time girlfriend María Francisca (Xisca) Perelló since 2005.

Rafael Nadal with girlfriend Maria Perello
Rafael Nadal with his girlfriend, Maria Xisca Perelló

Rafael Nadal Awards and Achievement

Nadal has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles, the second most in history for a male player.

Grand Slam Singles

  • French Open (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018)
  • Australian Open (2009)
  • US Open (2010, 2013, 2017)

Other tournaments:

  • Olympic games (2008, 2016)
  • Davis Cup (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011)

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