Full Name – Rafael Nadal Parera
Age – 34 (03-June-1986)
Nationality – Spanish
Role – Left-handed, Two-handed backhand (Aggressive counterpuncher)
Coach – Toni Nadal, Francisco Roig, Carlos Moyá
Current Ranking – No. 3
Highest Ranking – No. 1 (18-August-2008)
Career Earnings – US$124,480,032
Win/Loss – 1022/207 (best in Open era)
ATP Titles – 88
Grand Slams – 20
Winner of 20 Grand Slams and 88 ATP titles, Rafael Nadal has been one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Since turning pro in 2001, Rafa has been one of the most successful teenagers in the history of the ATP tour. He became World No. 2 by the age of 19, winning 16 titles, including his first Roland Garros and six Masters titles.
Nadal became World No. 1 for the first time in 2008 after beating top-ranked Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final. By 2010, he completed the career Grand Slam at the 2010 US Open and with his gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympic games, Nadal became only the second male player to win a career Golden Slam.
In the next decade, Novak Djokovic emerged as his primary rival. The two have locked horns 57 times (including 9 Grand Slam finals), which is a record in tennis Open Era history. Though Nadal has struggled to replicate his performances in the Australian Open and Wimbledon in the last decade, his 13th Roland Garros title in 2020 equalled him with Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam titles (20).
Best Finishes at each Grand Slam
Australian Open: Champion (2009)
Roland Garros: Champion (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
Wimbledon: Champion (2008, 2010)
US Open: Champion (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019)
Style of Play
Nadal has an aggressive, behind-the-baseline playing style built on heavy topspin groundstrokes, sharp footwork, consistency, and total court coverage. His stronghold is his forehand; he generates more topspin than any other player on tour. Being a southpaw, he manages to convert most of his Ad-court points, as a lefty capitalises more points from that area. Although he manages to bully almost every other guy on tour, his in-game baselining strategy gets found out by Djokovic, who is an offensive counter puncher himself.
Sponsorship & Endorsements
Kia Motors – Kia and Rafael Nadal started their journey in 2004. In 2006, the Seoul-headquartered automaker made Nadal its global ambassador. With Nadal’s five-year contract expiring in 2020, Kia let its fans have a say in offering a contract extension to the 34-year-old Spaniard; a renewal was promptly requested, which would see Nadal remain Kia’s global ambassador till 2025, extending the Kia-Nadal partnership beyond the 20-year mark.
Nike – Nike has sponsored Nadal since he was 13. As their ten-year long partnership was coming to an end in 2018, many believed Rafa would jump ship for a bigger payment, like his rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, but the Spaniard put all those rumours to bed when he extended his contract for a further five years. The deal reportedly pays Nadal around US$10 million in guaranteed payment.
Richard Mille – In 2010, Richard Mille roped in Rafael Nadal as its brand ambassador. To mark the tenth anniversary of its partnership with the Spaniard, Richard Mille released the RM 27-04 watch ahead of the 2020 French Open. The watch weighs just 30 grams, making it the lightest tourbillon in the world, but costs a whopping US$1.05 million.
Mapfre – Mapfre is a Spanish insurance company that offers life and property insurance services. After signing on a long-term deal with Nadal, the brand started to offer scholarships for junior tennis players and also organised the Rafael Nadal Junior tennis circuit tournament in 2014 to raise funds for Nadal’s foundation. Mapfre offered another contract extension to Nadal in 2017. The pair celebrated their 10th anniversary in May of 2020.
Babolat – Babolat is a famous French sports equipment company. It has been sponsoring Nadal since he was a nine-year-old junior player. He started his junior career with Pure Drive racquet which helped its R&D to develop better Pure Aero racquets. Nadal currently uses the Aero Pro Drive racquet, which is topspin heavy and generates power that suits Nadal’s playing style.
Cantabria Labs – Nadal started to endorse Cantabria Labs in May 2019. The company uses Rafa’s image to promote its skincare products under the tagline – “Give Your All for What Matters Never to the Sun”. Interestingly, the Rafael Nadal Foundation and the Rafa Nadal Academy are also part of the deal, though, the details of the finances involved and the duration of the deal were not revealed in its press release.
Banco Santander – Banco Santander is a Spanish company that offers banking and financial services in Madrid and Santander. The Santander Group signed a long-term deal with Nadal on the last day of 2019. The bank also appointed him as their brand ambassador, but the financial details of the deal were not disclosed by either party.
Telefónica – Telefónica is a Madrid-based telecommunication company. Nadal was appointed as its brand ambassador when the two signed a sponsorship pact in 2014. After the deal expired in May 2020, Telefónica offered a five-year extension to Nadal in October 2020. With its many subsidiaries set up in different regions of the world, one of its subsidiaries, Movistar, helped the tennis star to establish his tennis academy in Manacor and named it “Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar”
Amstel Ultra – Amstel Ultra, the premium low-carb, low-calorie light beer, appointed Rafael Nadal as a global ambassador for its growing lifestyle products. The three-year deal, signed in April 2021, will see Nadal endorse a beer brand for the first time. The agreement will see Nadal feature in a variety of global marketing campaigns, with a vision to create a production line suited to a more balanced and active lifestyle.
Tommy Hilfiger – The famous American clothing, footwear, and accessories brand Tommy Hilfiger appointed the Spaniard as its global ambassador in 2014. The deal was worth between US$2-3 million for a duration of two years. The appearance of Nadal was meant for the launch of their new line of underwear and tailored collections in different parts of the world.
Mueller Sports Medicine – As the name suggests, Mueller Sports sell sports medicine for athletes. The brand signed a three-year sponsorship deal with Nadal in 2014. While in contract, Nadal had to endorse Mueller’s abrasion control products for the duration of the term. The contract expired in 2017 and reportedly wasn’t renewed.
Banco Sabadell – The Spanish banking and financial services company appointed Rafael Nadal as its brand ambassador in Spain as well as internationally. The contract was signed for five years in 2014 and expired in 2019. The deal was not renewed as Nadal signed up with rival bank Banco Santander.
Business Ventures & Investments
- In 2016, Nadal opened the Rafa Nadal Academy in his hometown of Manacor, Spain. According to reports, it costs kids US$62,000 to enroll at the academy – which makes it a lucrative venture for Nadal. For that price, students are provided with lodging and food apart from training and education. The academy also has a fitness center, as well as a wellness spa.
- Nadal, along with singer Enrique Iglesias and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, teamed up to invest in a Spanish restaurant chain TATEL. The first restaurant was opened in Madrid, followed by two others in Ibiza and Miami. They have one more restaurant lined up, soon to be opened in Beverly Hills.
- In 2018, Nadal put his Italian-built MCY 76 luxury yacht, Beethoven, up for sale for US$3 million. Later in 2020, Nadal bought a Sunreef catamaran for an unknown price.
- Rafa owns multiple homes, including his home in Majorca which is worth around US$1.5 million, while he also owns a luxury villa in the Dominican Republic, purchased for US$2 million.
- Nadal opened the first Rafa Nadal Tennis Centre in 2018, located at the Grand Palladium Costa Mujeres Resort & Spa in Mexico. The center is available to local residents, with training facilities provided for adults and children, including workshops and private classes.
- In 2019, Rafa opened his second Tennis center in the Sani Resort in Greece. With eight clay courts, the site offered an exclusive deal – to be trained by Nadal’s uncle and former coach, Toni Nadal.
Notable Charity Work
- The creation of the Fundación Rafa Nadal took place in November 2007. The organisation’s work focuses on social work and development aid particularly for children and youth.
- In October 2010, struck hard by the poverty in India, Nadal made his first visit to his tennis academy for underprivileged children at Anantapur Sports Village, Andhra Pradesh. His foundation has also worked in the Anantapur Educational Center Project with the Vicente Ferrer Foundation.
- Nadal opened his tennis academy center to the flood victims of Majorca in 2018. One day after the floods, Nadal was seen working with some of his friends to help the victims. Later, Nadal donated €1 million for rebuilding Sant Llorenç des Cardassar, the town most affected by floods. He also organised other charitable activities, such as the Olazábal & Nadal charity golf tournament.
- Nadal also supports or has supported other charities like City Harvest, Elton John AIDS Foundation, Laureus Sport for Good Foundation and Small Steps Project.
Rivalry and Legacy
Former tennis player and eight-time Grand Slam winner Andre Agassi hailed Nadal as the greatest of all time because of the way the Spaniard had to carve his way alongside Federer, Djokovic and Andy Murray during tennis’ golden age.
Nadal leads his head-to-head battles against most of the top-seeded players that played during his career, with Djokovic being the only one to hold an upper hand against the Spaniard with a slender lead of 29-28.
The only player to win 13 men’s singles titles at one major.
- Has the record of winning at least one major title for most consecutive years (2005-2014).
- Has the record of winning Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces in a calendar year (2010).
- The only player to win four Grand Slam titles without dropping a set.
- Has the record of winning the most men’s singles Elite titles at a single event (Monte-Carlo Masters), with 11 titles to his name.
- Has the record for most consecutive quarter-final appearances with 21(2008-2010).
- Has won 12 Barcelona Open titles.
- Has won a record number of 10 Rome Masters titles.