Rafael Nadal - Tennis
Born on June 3, 1986 in Manacor, Balearic Islands, Spain, Rafael Nadal is a 25-year-old professional tennis player who will represent his home nation in this summer’s Olympic Games in London. One of the most well-known players on the professional tour today, Nadal has surpassed former rivals and is currently the #2 player in the world. Standing 6-1 and weighing less than 200 pounds, Nadal isn’t an imposing presence on the court. But he is incredibly quick and powerful, especially on clay.
Nadal brought Spain a gold medal in tennis via the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Only 21 at the time, most contend that Rafael is a far better player in 2012 than he was back then. Now in the prime of his career, Nadal is the heavy favorite to win Olympic Gold in London. The field is strong, with Sweden also in the mix, but Nadal holds the main focus.
To go over Rafael Nadal’s entire career you would literally need a lengthy novel. He has been playing tennis since he was 5 years old and has been a professional since 2001. He won his first ATP match in 2002, but it wasn’t until 2005 that Nadal would really burst onto the scene. It wasn’t that his talent was lacking, but with players like Roger Federer in the field, Rafael was simply overshadowed and overmatched.
Nadal was playing great tennis in 2005, but no one predicted Rafael’s shocking win over Federer in the French Open that year. Nadal would defeat Roger in the semis and ultimately win the final to claim his first major championship, one of the youngest to ever do so. Although the French Open was his first big title, Nadal was already known as king of the clay. He won 32 matches in a row on clay, beating legend Bjorn Borg’s record of 31.
In 2006, again on clay, Nadal defeated Federer again and extended his win streak to 53 matches on the unforgiving surface. As 2008 approached, Federer and Nadal were the two biggest names in tennis. Fittingly, Nadal would be representing Spain in the Olympic Games, while Federer would represent Sweden. The two nations were also tennis rivals in the Games, so there was something very poetic about tennis in the 2008 Beijing Games.
Overall, Federer had the best of Nadal, with Nadal only managing to win on clay courts. So everyone was salivating over a potential finals matchup between the two men. It wasn’t to be, however, and Nadal was to face Novak Djokovic and Fernando Gonzalez in the Olympics. He beat both men and became the first top-five ranked player to win Olympic Gold.
Nadal’s career has been extremely impressive. He owns a gold medal in the Olympics, 46 career singles titles, and even 7 doubles titles. He has long catapulted past an aging Federer and was ranked #1 in the world for over a year. As the #2 ranked player, Nadal is preparing to defend his gold medal in this year’s Games.
- French Open – Winner (2005-2008, 2010, 2011)
- Wimbledon – Winner (2008, 2010)
- 2008 Olympic Games – Gold
- Australian Open – Winner 2009
- US Open – Winner 2010
- French Open – Winner (2012)