Rafael Nadal is a Spanish professional tennis player. He has been ranked #2 on the ATP Tour for a record 158 weeks and became #1 on 18 August 2008.
Nadal's nomination for Left-Hander of the Year by our Left-Handers Club members in 2008 caused some controversy, as Nadal is only left-handed when he plays tennis - doing everything else with his right hand! As this video released by Nike shows, he would not manage very well in a left-handed world!
Nadal grew up in a sports-minded family; his uncle Miguel Angel Nadal was a professional association football (soccer) player who competed in the 2002 World Cup.
Rafael began playing tennis at age four, guided by another uncle, Toni Nadal, who remained his coach on the professional tour. In his early years, Nadal (who wrote with his right hand) played left-handed tennis with both a two-handed forehand and backhand. When he was 12, however, his uncle encouraged him to adopt a more conventional left-handed style. Nadal stuck with his two-handed backhand but switched to what became his signature one-handed forehand, the stroke that was credited with lifting him into the sport’s upper echelons.
During his incredible career, Nadal has won five Grand Slam singles titles. He won four consecutive French Open titles from 2005-2008 and Wimbledon in 2008. He is the only male player other than Björn Borg to have won four consecutive French Open titles in the Open Era and one of only three in the Open Era who won both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same calendar year. He is also only the second male Spaniard to have won the Wimbledon title.
Nadal is already regarded by some tennis critics and former players as the greatest clay-court player in the history of the sport. He won a record 81 consecutive matches on clay from April 2005 to May 2007. This is the longest winning streak of any male player on a single surface in the Open Era. He also has a 22-1 record in the finals of clay-court tournaments and is undefeated in over 40 best-of-five-set matches on clay.
Nadal has a storied rivalry with Roger Federer and leads 12-6 in career meetings. They have played in 6 Grand Slam finals, an Open Era record, with Nadal winning 4 of these matches. Known best for his stunning triumph at Wimbledon against Federer in 2008, Nadal took his first Wimbledon championship away from the Swiss champ in a grueling 4 hours 48 minutes for one of the longest men's final in tennis history.
Reasons given by Left Handers Club Members with their nominations for him to win:
- Never gave up, never lost belief in himself & is a thoroughly nice guy.
- For consistently high standard of tennis, winning of competitions, always conducting himself with decorum and manners on and off the court.
- Because of his outstanding tennis performances winning French Open, Queens and then Wimbledon in succession. He is a joy to watch