At the end of January, Rafael Nadal completed his 800th consecutive week in the world top 10, according to the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) ranking, reinforcing his status as history's tennis player spending the most time among the best in the world.
Rafael Nadal reinforces longevity record
The Spaniard, currently ranked second, has not left the world top 10 since he got in on April 25, 2005, at the age of 18, shortly before winning the first of his 13 Roland Garros titles. Furthermore, during those 800 weeks – that is, for the last 15 years –, the 34-year-old athlete mainly ranked first (209 weeks) or second (361 weeks) in the ATP ranking, making his accomplishment even more notable.
Known for his strength as a leftie and his rivalry with Roger Federer, Nadal is a legend of Spanish sports and worldwide tennis history. In fact, Nadal is the longest-running player among the top 10 in tennis worldwide, beating Jimmy Connors (789), Roger Federer (734), Ivan Lendl (619), and Pete Sampras (565).
Looking back at 2020
All things considered, 2020 was a good year for Rafael Nadal, given that he won Roland Garros for the 13th time in his career and thus matched Roger Federer's Grand Slams record at 20 titles.
Meanwhile, at the end of February 2021, the Serbian Novak Djokovic, currently ATP's number one player, won his 9th Australian Open title and his 18th Grand Slam title, by defeating the Russian Daniil Medvedev in the final at Melbourne Park.
The fight for the most Grand Slam titles is on and the competition is fierce! In fact, it was Djokovic's coach, Croatian Goran Ivanisevic, who said that Nadal "will surely win another Grand Slam, I hope he doesn't win two… They [Nadal and Federer] are unbelievable. They are playing better and better tennis every time".
A very early start
Considered by many experts to be one of the best tennis players in history, Rafael Nadal surprised everyone in 2004 by defeating, at the age of 17, the until then world's number one Roger Federer at the Masters 1000 in Miami, on a hardcourt. Until the end of 2005, he amassed a total of 11 titles, including the first Grand Slam at Roland Garros.
Nadal ventured into the sport very early, at the age of 3, under his uncle Toni Nadal's guidance. At 12, he decided to dedicate himself entirely to tennis instead of football, which he also played at that age. At 16, he was already in ATP's top 50.
His persistence and desire to improve his technique led him to various international tournaments, such as the Beijing Olympics (2008), Wimbledon, U.S Open, and Australian Open.
Nadal is known for his great physical strength, which is evident in his well-known and aggressive blows to the left, in addition to his famous drop shots, always done at the right moment.
He is not considered strong/quick in service, but the Spaniard's patience and fighting attitude are qualities that have shaken the confidence of his rivals over the years. His flexibility and ability to mount accurate tactics to overcome opponents of different styles is one of his strengths, making him an outstanding athlete.
Determination and philanthropy
Since the beginning of his international career, in 2004, Rafael Nadal has gone through victories, losses and even absences for medical reasons. However, his absolute dedication to training, with enormous determination, has always guaranteed him glorious returns to the courts.
"It would be very arrogant of me to say I achieved what I expected when I was 16. At that age, I only wanted to be a professional tennis player and to win one tournament someday. My dream was to win Wimbledon, and I managed to do that for the first time in 2008. A lot has happened, results-wise, since that first interview when I was 16, and I have to say I am very thankful for my life. I never expected to achieve even half of what I achieved", said Nadal of his career, quoted by Tennis World.
Like many top athletes or public figures in their areas, Nadal did not forget to foster his more philanthropic side, having created the Nadal Foundation back in 2008 in Manacor, his hometown on the island of Mallorca, which focuses on social support for children and teenagers. Another strong feature of this true tennis legend!
Dedication, hard work pays off
Greatness is not a given right and it doesn't come easy. It takes hard work and dedication to succeed, whatever your sport may be.
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