The Life of Rafael Nadal

He's the unrivaled king of clay and among the greatest players ever. This is the story of Rafael Nadal. 🎾

Meet Rafael Nadal

Tennis and sports life in general have been my passion, all my life since I was a kid. He’s the greatest clay court player in the history of tennis…He’s Rafael Nadal. Born on June 3, 1986 in Manacor, Spain, he dreamed of following in the footsteps of his uncle Miguel Ángel Nadal, a soccer player best known for playing with FC Barcelona. At 3, another uncle, Toni, began coaching him.

Rafael Nadal can use both hands comfortably. He writes and eats with his right hand and plays tennis with his left. At 13, he won the famous Les Petits As tournament in Tarbes, France. At 19, he won his first French Open. Many other victories in Paris followed. That same year, he appeared for the first time with his girlfriend, Xisca, whom he’d known since his childhood in Majorca. At 20, a foot injury almost compromised his career. He considered becoming a professional golfer, like the only athlete he idolized, Tiger Woods.

At 22, he took the men’s world no. 1 ranking from his top rival, Roger Federer. That same year, with his mother, he created the Fundación Rafa Nadal. Its goal is to use athletics and related values to help disadvantaged children in Spain and India. At 24, he opened the Rafa Nadal Tennis School in Anantapur, in one of India’s poorest regions.

At 31, he sued French politician Roselyne Bachelot, who had accused him of doping. The former sports minister was ordered to pay damages and interest totaling $11,000. Nadal donated the money to charitable organizations in France. In 2018, he helped with rescue efforts after a flood on his island of Majorca left 12 dead.

When on the court he has a series of rituals that have become well-known to tennis fans. At the French Open, he says he always uses the same locker, no. 159. He always takes a cold shower before his matches. When he enters a court, he never steps on the white lines. He arranges his water bottles in a specific order, and he bites each of the trophies he wins. Today, Rafael Nadal has one of the highest numbers of titles in tennis.