Rafael NadalSpanish Tennis Player
Rafael Nadal is a Spanish tennis player. Widely regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, Nadal has won a record 22 grand slam men’s singles titles.
• Date of Birth: 3 June 1986
• Age: 36 years old
• Place of Birth: Manacor, Mallorca, Spain
• Residence: Manacor, Mallorca, Spain
• Wife: Maria Francisca (m. 2019)
• Country (Sports): Spain
• Height: 185cm / 6ft 1ins
• Weight: 85kg / 187lbs
• Plays: Left-handed
• Turned Pro: 2001
• Career Prize Money: US$ 131,338,131
• Net Worth: £183m / $220m (Estimate)
The 36-year-old was born on the island of Mallorca in Spain and began playing tennis when he was around four years old with his his uncle and longtime coach Toni.
Nadal is naturally right-handed but plays tennis with his left hand and initially played with a two-handed forehand before changing his technique when he was around nine years old.
The Spaniard won his first grand slam title at the French Open in 2005, a tournament he would later go on to dominate in the years to come.
He went on to win all of the grand slam tournaments more than once, claiming his first Wimbledon title in 2008 and winning the Australian Open and US Open for the first time in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
Nadal first earned the world number one ranking back in the summer of 2008, and he won Olympic singles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Nadal has also won the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals twice in his career.
So, what do we know about Nadal’s journey to becoming the legendary tennis player he is known for being today? This is his story.
Early Life, Parents And Upbringing
Rafael Nadal (full name: Rafael Nadal Parera) was born on 3 June 1986 in Manacor, Mallorca, Spain, to parents Ana Maria and Sebastian. He has a younger sister named Maria Isabel.
Nadal’s father is a businessman, and among his businesses are the family-owned Sa Punta restaurant and the Vidres Mallorca glass-and-windows company. His uncle, Miguel Angel Nadal, is a former professional footballer, who played for Mallorca, FC Barcelona and the Spanish national team.
Nadal was first introduced to tennis by his uncle Toni when he was three years old and started playing the sport when he was around four years old.
Toni Nadal initially encouraged Rafael to play tennis for fun alongside his football practice. When he was just starting out, Nadal admits that he initially preferred playing football.
“I carried on playing football as well as tennis, but slowly played more and more tennis with my uncle,” Nadal said in an interview with The Times in 2006. “But I still preferred football. That was my real love when I was a young boy.”
Nadal was eight years old when he won the regional tennis championships for under-12s. “That’s when people started to say maybe I could make it to the top in tennis,” he said.
Toni Nadal then began to work more seriously with Rafael and encouraged him to start playing with his left hand, even though he is naturally right-handed. “He noticed that I was playing forehand shots with two hands, so one day he told me to try with one hand,” said Nadal in the same interview with The Times. “I used my left foot in football, so he thought I should try that. I did. It worked.”
It was when he was around 12 years old that Nadal had to make a final choice between football and tennis. His father, Sebastian, wanted him to choose one of the sports to focus on so that his schoolwork didn’t suffer. “My father made me choose between football and tennis so my school work didn’t suffer,” Nadal revealed. “I chose tennis. Football had to stop straight away.
Nadal turned professional in 2001 when he was 15 years old. He participated in his first ITF junior event at Wimbledon in 2002. There, he reached the semi-finals of the boys’ singles event, losing to Lamine Ouahab of Algeria in two sets in the last four.
Nadal also competed for Spain in the 2002 Junior Davis Cup Final, winning all five of his matches to help his country claim victory.
Nadal’s highest ranking as a junior player was number 145 in the world in December 2002.
In April 2002, Nadal won his first ATP Tour match on home soil in Mallorca, beating Ramon Delgado in straight sets after having been handed a wildcard into the main draw. He then lost to Olivier Rochus of Belgium in the second round.
He continued to make steady progress, initially mainly playing Futures and Challenger tournaments as he made his way up the rankings.
Nadal enjoyed something of a breakthrough in the spring of 2003 at the Monte Carlo Masters. He came through two rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw, where he beat Karol Kucera and Albert Costa to reach the third round, where he lost to Guillermo Coria of Argentina.
His improved ranking earned him a direct entry to the main draw of Wimbledon in 2003, and he beat Mario Ancic and Lee Childs to reach the third round, becoming the youngest man to reach that stage at SW19 since Boris Becker in 1984. In the third round, he lost to Paradorn Srichaphan.
Nadal won his first ATP Tour singles title in August 2004 at the Prokom Open in Sopot, Poland. He defeated Argentina’s Jose Acasuso in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 to claim the trophy.
Nadal then tasted grand slam glory for the first time in his career at the 2005 French Open when he was 19 years old. After having won the Monte Carlo Masters, the Barcelona Open and the Rome Masters in the lead-up to the tournament, Nadal beat the likes of Richard Gasquet and Roger Federer to reach the French Open final, where he defeated Mariano Puerta of Argentina in straight sets.
“It’s incredible to win at Roland Garros,” said Nadal afterwards. “It’s a dream come true to win on my first appearance here. Mariano was my toughest opponent in the two weeks. It was a great final.”
Nadal went on to establish himself as one of men’s tennis’ top players and won the French Open in 2006, 2007 and 2008. His first grand slam title away from Paris came at Wimbledon in 2008, when he defeated Roger Federer in what is regarded as one of the greatest tennis matches of all time.
Nadal triumphed 6-4 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-7 (8-10) 9-7 over Federer in a dramatic and rain-interrupted match to claim his first grand slam title away from Roland Garros. “It’s impossible to explain what I felt in that moment but I’m very, very happy,” said Nadal after that epic match. It is a dream to play on this court, my favourite tournament, but to win I never imagined.” Nadal took the world number one ranking for the first time in his career in the summer of 2008.
After having claimed singles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Nadal won the Australian Open for the first time in 2009 and claimed his first title at the US Open in 2010. He also won his first ATP World Tour Finals title in 2010.
At the time of writing, Nadal has won a total of 22 grand slam singles titles, which is an all-time record. He is also one of only two men to have completed the career ‘Golden Slam’ in singles.
Rafael Nadal Net Worth, Prize Money And Career Earnings
As is the case with most sports stars and celebrities, there is no ‘official’ number for Rafael Nadal’s net worth available. However, a number of publications have attempted to make educated guesses as to the amount over the years.
In 2022, celebritynetworth.com estimated that Rafael Nadal’s net worth stood at around $220m (£183m). Wealthygorilla.com estimated the same figure at the time of writing.
Although the precise figure of Rafael Nadal’s net worth may not be known, there are some numbers that we can be 100 per cent sure of.
For example, we know that, as of August 2022, Nadal has earned a total of $131,338,131 (£108.9m) in total prize money (combined for both singles and doubles) from playing tennis. At the time of writing, this placed him at number two behind Novak Djokovic in the list of the highest-earning men’s tennis players of all time.
Meanwhile, in 2022, Forbes estimated that Nadal had pocketed a total of around $500m (before taxes and agents’ fees) in career earnings, from both prize money and endorsements, during his career up until that point.
In 2020, Forbes also estimated that Nadal had earned $40m (£33.1m) in a 12-month period. Of that figure, $14m (£11.6m) was said to have come from prize money and the remaining $26m (£21.6m) came from sponsorships and endorsements.
Life Away From The Court
Rafael Nadal’s wife is Maria Francisca Perello. The couple began dating in 2005 and got married in October 2019.
Despite his stardom, it’s clear that Nadal likes to enjoy a simple life away from tennis, and speaking in an interview with The Times in 2006, he revealed that he only really has one goal in life.
“My goal in life when I was a young boy was to be happy,” said Nadal. “My goal now? To be happy. Nothing has changed. I have got better at tennis, but that is all. Nothing in me has changed. People think they will meet me and I will be a different person, but I won’t. I am the same. I still want nothing more than to be happy.”
Away from tennis, Nadal, who speaks Spanish, Balearic Catalan and English, enjoys playing both golf and poker.
In May 2016, Nadal launched the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, which combines high-level tennis with education and residency.
Nadal likes to spend his downtime on his home island of Mallorca. “I love to be in Mallorca,” he said. “I love to come back and to be with my friends, with my family, with all the people that I really love. I mean, it is something very important to maintain, close to me.”
What Have Others Said?
Roger Federer, speaking after losing to Nadal in the epic Wimbledon final in 2008: “I tried everything, got a little late, but look, Rafa is a deserving champion, he just played fantastic. The rain didn’t make it easier but you have to expect the worst and he’s the worst opponent on the best court. It’s a pity I couldn’t win it but I’ll be back next year.”
Daniil Medvedev, speaking after losing to Nadal in the 2022 Australian Open final: “If we talk about tennis, I’m not that disappointed. It was a huge match, for sure, and there were some small points, small details, that I could have done better if I wanted to win. But that’s tennis. That’s life. Rafa played unreal and raised his level. I mean, two sets to love up, I wanted just to go for him, go for more. He was really strong, the way he played for four hours, I was even surprised.”