Wouldn’t the tennis career of Rafael Nadal make for a great movie script? I mean, from being a teen tennis sensation to a 19-time Grand Slam champion, Rafa has been through it all.
All throughout his career, he faced numerous setbacks and many, many injuries. In fact, whenever it seemed like there was no tennis player that could stop him, an injury happened and forced him off the court for months.
And then, there are those who publicly deny the Spaniard’s legacy, claiming that he can only win on clay. (Um… yeah! He holds a 12-time winning record at Roland Garros… dude has MAJOR tennis cred!)
Of course, we fans have our fave Rafa memories, but have any of us wondered what his are?
In a recent interview, Nadal revealed some of his favorite moments from earlier in his career:
“My first Davis Cup in Sevilla, the final against USA was a very important moment. My first Roland Garros in 2005 as well, my first grand slam and the first title I won there. Then several reasons make Wimbledon 2008 a key moment in my career. I’d say Australia 2009 was unexpected due to the way I arrived there, but it was very emotional. Then I’d say US Open 2013 was very special after coming back from a major knee injury that kept me 7 months out of the court.That made it one of the most fulfilling victories.”
Never tired of listening him top list his most important moments.
(Davis Cup 2004 ❤️ after all this time? ?) pic.twitter.com/bMEdvNarab
— monse ?? ? (@coachdal) February 6, 2020
I’ve seen all but the 2004 Davis Cup (plus, I did a little research,) and now I totally get why Rafa feels the way he does about these matches:
- The 2004 Davis Cup was really the first time he showed the world he had the makings of a tennis champion. Rafa won over then, World No. 2 American champion Andy Roddick 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(6), 6-2, which was in itself a HUGE deal, but his personal win also helped seal the entire Fed Cup win for Spain.
- The 2005 Roland Garros kickstarted the “King Of Clay’s” legacy in France as he won the first of his record-setting 12 French Open titles (and 19 overall Grand Slams) by defeating Mariano Puerta 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 7-5 in three hours and 24 minutes. Also, with this win, Nadal became the first player since Mats Wilander in 1982 to win Roland Garros the very first time he played in the tournament.
- The 2008 Wimbledon was one of the greatest moments of his career, no doubt because it was his first Grand Slam win that was not the French Open, as well as being his first win on grass. He defeated then arch rival Roger Federer in an epic five-set battle 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–7(8), 9–7, with many regarding it as one of greatest matches (if not THE greatest) in the history of tennis.
- The 2009 Australian Open had a couple of special significances, the main one (for me) being that Rafa was the first Spaniard ever to win the Aussie tournament — in 104 years! And he did it by taking down Roger Federer in a five-setter 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2 that was so emotional, it left Federer in tears. It was also the first hard court Slam that Rafa had won, validating to all of the doubters that he can win on all surfaces, not just clay and grass.
- The 2013 US Open had him facing another one of his long-time rivals, Serbian Novak Djokovic. After spending 7 long months recovering from a knee injury, Rafael muscled through 4 sets to defeat Novak 6–2, 3–6, 6–4, 6–1, adding another hard court win to his already impressive list.
Nadal brought back some of the greatest memories for us tennis fans, and I have no doubt that will will be giving us many more for the remaining part of his career.
What are your favorite moments from Rafa’s past? Please share them in the comments below :-)