He made his debut among the professionals at the tender age of 14 in satellite tournaments; in September 2001 he got the first points and at the end of the year he was the 818th tennis player in the world. He won his first ATP match in April 2002 in Mallorca against Ramon Delgado, becoming the 9th Under-16 to win a match in the Open era. He becomes one of the most outstanding athletes in the world.
First years of a genius.
In 2002 he won 6 futures and finished the year in 235th place in the ATP, winning the semi-finals at Wimbledon junior.
In 2003, Nadal, at the age of 16, is among the 100 best individual players in the world and is the second youngest player to do so. At 17, Nadal made his Wimbledon debut and earned the honor of being the youngest male player to reach the third round since 1984, the year 16-year-old Boris Becker passed away.
In 2003 Rafa Nadal reached the final in Cagliari where he was defeated by the Italian Filippo Volandri. Conquer the prestigious challenger of Barletta and a few weeks later he plays his first Master tournament in Monte Carlo, passing 2 rounds; this performance allows him to enter the top 100 in the world. He made his Wimbledon debut and moved up to the third round. After a month he is in the top 50.
The first final, but not the last.
In January 2004 he reached his first ATP final in Auckland and a month later he made his Davis Cup debut in the match against the Czech Republic; loses to Jiri Novak, but then wins against Radek Stepanek. In the Miami Master Series tournament he obtained a prestigious victory, facing and beating in the third round, in two sets, world number one Roger Federer ; here begins what will be one of the greatest rivalries in tennis history. In August he won the second ATP title in Sopot. On December 3, his victory over Andy Roddick is decisive for Spain’s fifth Davis Cup triumph and Nadal becomes the youngest winner in the history of the trophy. He closes the season in 48th place in the world ranking.
The year of consecration.
2005 is the year of consecration. He won eleven tournaments in the season (Costa Do Sauipe, Acapulco, Monte Carlo AMS, Barcelona, Roma AMS, French Open, Bastad, Stuttgart, Montreal AMS, Beijing, Madrid AMS) out of the twelve finals played (only Roger Federer wins as much like him in 2005), he sets the record for Master Series tournaments won in one year with 4 wins (a record he shares with Roger Federer, who won 4 Master Series tournaments in the same season and in 2006).
In the Master Series in Rome he beat Guillermo Coria after an endless challenge of 5 hours and 14 minutes. On May 23, he beat Mariano Puerta in the final, winning his first Roland Garros and reaching second position in the ATP rankings. A foot injury prevents him from competing in the Shanghai Masters Cup.
2006 opens with the “loss” of Nadal at the Australian Open again due to the same physical problems, but upon his return to the courts he wins the Dubai tournament in the final against Roger Federer. He returns to win the Master Series tournaments in Monte Carlo and Rome, and both times he beats Federer in the final. He confirmed his victory in the home tournament in Barcelona and on June 11, 2006, in the final of Roland Garros, beating his Swiss rival again, he won his second Grand Slam tournament. With this result, Nadal becomes the first player in history to achieve the so-called “Red Slam” (victories in the three most prestigious tournaments on clay: Monte Carlo, Rome, Paris) for two consecutive years, confirming himself as a specialist in surfaces.
Beating Djokovic and 75 wins.
After a slow start (among other things defeated at the Australian Open in the quarterfinals by Chilean Fernando González), Nadal’s 2007 saw him triumph in March at the Indian Wells Master Series, beating Serbian Novak Djokovic in the final, in April in the Master. Monte Carlo Series, defeating Roger Federer in the final for the umpteenth time, in Barcelona and then Guillermo Cañas in the final, and in May in the Master Series in Rome, beating Chilean Fernando González in the final. In the course of this tournament, he also surpassed the record of 75 consecutive victories on a single type of terrain (in his case, clay) held by John McEnroe.
Later, in the Hamburg tournament, the Spaniard lost the final to Roger Federer, stopping his streak of consecutive victories on clay at 81. On that occasion, as a sign of the cordial relations and estimates that unite the two rivals, Nadal wants Have Federer sign the shirt he wore during the match.
The Swiss rematch.
The rematch against the Swiss comes after just two weeks, at Roland Garros. Together again in the final as the year before, Nadal takes home the title for the third year in a row (the only player after Bjorn Borg in the Open era), with a score of 6-3,4-6,6- 3, 6-4, losing the only set lost in the tournament in the last game.
Increase their winning streak at the French Open, 21-0; in fact, he remains undefeated in the land of Paris. With this victory, the Mallorcan tennis player takes the titles won in the Grand Slam to 3, in 13 participations (third in the statistics after John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors) .He also holds another record: in the 34 games played in the best of 5 sets on clay beaten, Nadal has won them all.
Reaches the final of the Wimbledon Tournament again and scares Roger Federer for the first time in five years to a five-set match on the London lawn (7-6,4-6,7-6,2-6,6 – two). In the statements at the end of the race, the Swiss will say: “he also deserved this title”.
Defeats that add up.
2008 arrives and Nadal participates in the ATP tournament in Chennai, where he reaches the final but losing to Russian Mikhail Youzhny, very clearly (6-0, 6-1). Despite the defeat in the final, Nadal manages to nibble more points from Roger Federer. For the first time in his career Rafael Nadal reaches the semifinals of the Australian Open where he is defeated by the surprising Frenchman Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. At the Australian Open he achieved 200 points in the standings, and to get even closer to Roger Federer, reducing the distance to just 650 points (January 2008). In March he reaches the quarterfinals of the Dubai tournament, defeated in straight sets (7-6, 6-2) by Andy Roddick, but thanks to the concomitant defeat in the first round of Roger Federer, he reaches an all-time low of 350 points from number one in the world.
The Spaniard’s non-rosy period is highlighted by the defeat in the second round of the Rotterdam tournament at the hands of Italian Andreas Seppi in fairly tight three sets. Now for the Mallorcan there is a very important result to defend: the victory of the I Master Series of the Indian Wells season, which wins in the final 7-5 and 6-3 against Serbian Djokovic. Nadal easily makes it to the round of 16, where he meets new French Australian Open finalist Tsonga, who had won the final on his own.
Wimbledon, Federer and the victory.
Fly to England – at Wimbledon he reaches the final after dropping just one set on the road (at Gulbis). In the final he faces the five times champion and world number 1 Roger Federer, after an exhausting game continuously interrupted by rain, Nadal manages to win 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-7 9-7, after having had 4 match points, thus breaking Federer’s incredible streak on grass (66). This is a great result as Federer owned the All England club for five years (2003-2007). With the victory at Wimbledon he is very close to becoming the new number one in the world.
In the Cincinnati Master Series tournament he reached the semifinals, but was clearly defeated by a newly discovered Novak Djokovic (6-1, 7-5), number three in the world. Thanks to this result and the concomitant and unexpected defeat of Federer in the third round, Nadal ensures the arithmetic certainty of becoming the new world number one in the ATP rankings. Rafael Nadal is number one 24 in the history of the ranking, the third Spanish after Juan Carlos Ferrero and Carlos Moya. The first official place in the world comes on August 18, 2008, just one day after winning the gold medal for Spain at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
In 2010 he won the Rome Masters 1000 tournament for the fifth time, beating David Ferrer in the final, equaling Andre Agassi’s record of 17 wins. A few weeks later he returned to the top of the world by winning Roland Garros for the fifth time (beating Swede Robin Soderling in the final).
He entered the history of world tennis in September of the same year when, by winning the US Open at Flushing Meadows, he became the youngest player to win the Grand Slam.
Rafael Nadal in the 2010s
In 2011 he again equaled a record set by Swede Bjorn Borg, when in early June he won his sixth Roland Garros, once again beating his rival Federer in the final; but it is in 2013 that he enters history by winning this tournament for the eighth time. It spreads the following year, winning for the ninth time.
After another injury, the recovery in 2015 seems so precarious that this is an unlucky year, perhaps the worst of the Spaniard’s career. It closes 2015 as number 5 in the world. In 2016 she won precious Olympic gold in doubles at the Rio Games in Brazil. However, a new injury arrives. 2017 begins with an unexpected final in a Grand Slam tournament, the Australian: it goes without saying that he is again facing the eternal rival; this time it is Federer who wins, in the fifth set. In June he won again in Paris: thus raising the total of Roland Garros victories to 10.