Australian Open 2009
French Open 2005,2006,2007,2008,2010,2011,2012,2013,2014,2017,2018
US Open 2010,2013,2017
Rafa Nadal was born into a close Mallorcan family in June 1986. Around this time his uncle Miguel Angel Nadal was becoming one of the finest footballers in Spain. This gave the Nadal family a taste of sporting success that would prepare them for young Rafael's rise to glory years later. However, success never changed the Nadals' outlook on life. Even when Rafa was the best tennis player in the world, he never took anything for granted and knew that in order to succeed he had to be focussed on every match and for that focus to reach its peak on the most crucial points. Rafa loved football as a child, but any hopes he had of following in his uncle Miguel Angel's footsteps were extinguished when he concentrated full time on a tennis career at the age of 11. As well as an uncle Rafael Nadal that played football, there was an uncle Toni Nadal that was a tennis coach. Toni coached young Rafa from his earliest days and is still his coach to this day. Aged just 17 Rafa made his Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon in 2003 and made it through to the third round. He made his debut in the French Open two years later and was seeded four. In the semi finals, on his nineteenth birthday, Nadal overcame world number one Roger Federer in four sets to reach his first Grand Slam final. He then overcame Mariano Puerta in four sets to win his first Grand Slam title. Like Thomas Muster, Nadal's a fiercely determined lefthander who fights for every point, running down every ball. The following year Nadal broke Guillermo Vilas' longstanding record of consecutive clay court wins when he won his opening round match and progressed to the final with ease. There he faced Federer once more. Nadal went on to win in four sets to post his fifth consecutive win over the world number one. At Wimbledon, despite being seeded 2, few believed Nadal had the game to do well on grass. He proved them wrong by dismissing former champion Andre Agassi in the third round and Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis in the semis before losing in four sets to Federer in the final. However, question marks were raised over Nadal's ability at hard court Grand Slams as he failed to make an impact at the U. S. or the Australian. Nadal was back to his best at the 2007 French Open, overcoming Roger Federer to take his third consecutive title. At Wimbledon he fell victim to the English weather. At one stage he was two rounds behind Federer and had to play every day. He must have been exhausted by the time he reached the final, but he gave his all to try and win. Federer beat him in five sets. At the 2008 French Open Nadal didn't drop a set and swept Federer aside in the final for the loss of just four games. At Wimbledon Nadal and Federer met in the final again. Nadal had two match points in the fourth set tie break but Federer fought back to take the set. A lot of players would have been downhearted after getting so close to winning, but Nadal put the disappointment of missing the match points behind him. He kept putting pressure on the Federer serve and eventually, at 7-7 in the fifth set, he managed to break. He then held serve for a famous victory. In winning the Wimbledon final, Nadal seemed to take his game to another level. He had become a player capable of winning Grand Slams on all surfaces. At the 2009 Australian Open Nadal was awesome as he subdued Federer in five classic sets to take his first hard court Grand Slam title. He is one of only five men to have won Grand Slam titles on hard, clay and grass (the others were Jimmy Connors, Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer). However, his great run of wins at the French Open finally came to an end when he lost in the fourth round to Robin Soderling. A knee injury forced him out of Wimbledon, meaning he was unable to defend his title. Nadal was below his best at the U. S. Open, where he lost to an in-form Juan Martin Del Potro in the semis. Another knee injury caused him to retire at the 2010 Australian Open in the quarter finals. Nadal was back to full fitness for the clay court season. He was in awesome form on the red dust, culminating at the French Open, where he didn't drop a set. Soderling was blown away by Nadal in the final as Nadal clinched his fifth French Open title. Then Nadal won Wimbledon, beating Andy Murray in the semis and Tomas Berdych in the final. At the U. S. Open on his least favourite surface Nadal dropped only one set to Novak Djokovic in the final as he became the seventh man to win all four Grand Slam titles. At the 2011 Australian Open Nadal was not at his best physically as he lost in the quarters to David Ferrer. At the French Open Nadal was considerably below par, yet he still won five rounds in straight sets. In the final he finally hit form with an absorbing win against Federer in four sets to equal Bjorn Borg's record of six French Open titles. At Wimbledon Nadal played a poor final against Novak Djokovic losing in four sets (only in the third set did he attack the ball properly). At the U. S. Open Nadal and Djokovic met again. Djokovic played the match of his life, but Nadal refused to be beaten. Djokovic served for the match in the third set but Nadal fought back to win one of the greatest sets of all time. However, the huge effort that had been required to win the third set cost Nadal in the fourth and he lost it 6-1 to the remarkable Djokovic. At the 2012 Australian Open Nadal was outplayed by Djokovic in the final until Djokovic got fatigued in the fourth set. Then the match developed into an epic battle of wills. Nadal led 4-2 in the fifth, but Djokovic was not to be denied. In the French Open final Djokovic was below par and Nadal capitalised to win his seventh French Open title. Nadal has shown time and time again the value of winning the crucial points in matches and being able to put errors immediately out of his mind. Nadal suffered a shock early defeat at Wimbledon, where Lukas Rosol played the match of his life. Sadly, injury curtailed all of Nadal's season after Wimbledon. Nadal returned to his vintage best at the 2013 French Open, beating Novak Djokovic in arguably the best match ever seen in the tournament's history in the semis before an easy win over David Ferrer in the final. He is the only man to win eight Grand Slam singles titles at a single Grand Slam event. Nadal is the only man to win eight major titles on clay and it is hard to argue against him being regarded as the best clay court player ever. At Wimbledon 2013 Nadal was clearly suffering physically as he lost his opening match to Steve Darcis. It may be that from now on Nadal's physical state may be unknown from match to match. However, he was back to his best at the US Open, beating his old rival Djokovic in four sets in the final to take his second title. At the 2014 Australian Open Nadal beat Federer easily in the semis before suffering an injury in the final against Stan Wawrinka. At the French both Nadal and Djokovic suffered from the heat in the final, but Nadal's iron will won through in four sets to take his scarcely believable ninth title. At Wimbledon Nadal was beaten by teen sensation Nick Kyrgios in the fourth round. At the 2015 French Open, Nadal lost easily to Djokovic in the quarters to bring his great run at the event to an end. After two easy wins, Nadal pulled out of the 2016 French Open at the third round stage with an injured wrist. At the 2017 Australian Open, Nadal showed a welcome return to form, beating Grigor Dimitrov in the semis in nearly five hours before losing a five set final against Federer. After an impressive clay court season, Nadal won the French Open easily without losing a set, thrashing Stan Wawrinka in a one-sided final. A remarkable 10th French Open title moved him above Pete Sampras to 15 Grand Slam titles. At the 2017 US Open Nadal beat Del Potro and Kevin Anderson to win his sixteenth Grand Slam title. An eleventh French Open title followed in 2018, beating Dominic Thiem in the final. At Wimbledon Nadal beat Del Potro in five sets in the quarters before an epic match against Djokovic, which Nadal lost 10-8 in the fifth set.
© GRAND SLAM TENNIS ARCHIVE
HEAD TO HEAD Win-Loss: A.Agassi 1-0, M.Cilic 1-1, J.Del Potro 5-1, N.Djokovic 9-5, R.Federer 9-3, L.Hewitt 4-2, C.Moya 1-0, A.Murray 7-2, A.Roddick 1-1, S.Wawrinka 3-1
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