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Rafael Nadal

Spanish tennis player

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Rafael Nadal
Nadal serving at 2011 Roland Garros
Full nameRafael Nadal Parera
Country (sports)  Spain
ResidenceManacor, Mallorca, Spain
Born (1986-06-03) 3 June 1986 (age 34)
Manacor, Mallorca, Spain
Height1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Turned pro2001
PlaysLeft-handed (two-handed backhand), born right-handed
CoachToni Nadal (2005–2017)
Francisco Roig (2005–)
Carlos Moyá (2016–)
Prize moneyUS$120,955,904
Official websiterafaelnadal.com
Singles
Career record990–200 (83.2% in ATP Tour and Grand Slam main draw matches, and in Davis Cup; 1st in the Open Era)
Career titles85 (4th in the Open Era)
Highest rankingNo. 1 (18 August 2008)
Current rankingNo. 2 (3 February 2020)[1]
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian OpenW (2009)
French OpenW (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019)
WimbledonW (2008, 2010)
US OpenW (2010, 2013, 2017, 2019)
Other tournaments
Tour FinalsF (2010, 2013)
Olympic GamesW (2008)
Doubles
Career record137–74 (64.9% in ATP Tour and Grand Slam main draw matches, and in Davis Cup)
Career titles11
Highest rankingNo. 26 (8 August 2005)
Current rankingNo. 440 (14 September 2020)
Grand Slam Doubles results
Australian Open3R (2004, 2005)
Wimbledon2R (2005)
US OpenSF (2004)
Other doubles tournaments
Olympic GamesW (2016)
Team competitions
Davis CupW (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2019)
Last updated on: 14 September 2020.

Rafael "Rafa" Nadal Parera (Catalan: [rəf(ə)ˈɛl nəˈðal pəˈɾeɾə], Spanish: [rafaˈel naˈðal paˈɾeɾa];[2] born 3 June 1986) is a Spanish professional tennis player currently ranked world No. 2 in men's singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP).[3]

Nadal has won 19 Grand Slam singles titles, the second-most in history for a male player, as well as a record 35 ATP Tour Masters 1000 titles, 21 ATP Tour 500 titles and the 2008 Olympic gold medal in singles. In addition, Nadal has held the world No. 1 ranking for a total of 209 weeks, including being the year-end No. 1 five times.[3] In majors, Nadal has won a record twelve French Open titles, four US Open titles, two Wimbledon titles and one Australian Open title, and won at least one Grand Slam every year for a record ten consecutive years (2005–2014). Nadal has won 85 career titles overall, including the most outdoor titles in the Open Era (83) and a record 59 titles on clay. With 81 consecutive wins on clay, Nadal holds the record for the longest single-surface win streak in the Open Era.

Nadal has been involved in five Davis Cup titles with Spain, and currently has a 29-win streak and 29–1 record in singles matches at the event. In 2010, at the age of 24, he became the seventh male player and the youngest of five in the Open Era to achieve the singles Career Grand Slam. Nadal is the second male player after Andre Agassi to complete the singles Career Golden Slam, as well as the second male player after Mats Wilander to have won at least two Grand Slams on all three surfaces (grass, hard court and clay). He has received the tour Sportsmanship Award three times and has been named the ATP Player of the Year five times and the ITF World Champion four times. In 2011, Nadal was named the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year.[4]

Rafael Nadal Intro articles: 9

Early life

Rafael Nadal was born in Manacor, a town on the island of Mallorca in the Balearic Islands, Spain, to parents Ana María Parera Femenías and Sebastián Nadal Homar. His father is a businessman, owner of an insurance company, glass and window company Vidres Mallorca, and the restaurant, Sa Punta. Rafael has a younger sister, María Isabel. His uncle, Miguel Ángel Nadal, is a retired professional footballer, who played for RCD Mallorca, FC Barcelona, and the Spanish national team.[5] He idolized Barcelona striker Ronaldo as a child, and via his uncle got access to the Barcelona dressing room to have a photo with the Brazilian.[6] Recognizing in Rafael a natural talent, another uncle, Toni Nadal, a tennis coach, introduced him to the game when he was three years old.[7]

At age 8, Nadal won an under-12 regional tennis championship at a time when he was also a promising football player.[8] This made Toni Nadal intensify training, and it was at that time that his uncle encouraged Nadal to play left-handed for a natural advantage on the tennis court, after studying Nadal's then two-handed forehand stroke.[8]

At age 12, Nadal won the Spanish and European tennis titles in his age group, while also playing football.[8] Nadal's father made him choose between football and tennis so that his school work would not deteriorate entirely. Nadal said: "I chose tennis. Football had to stop straight away."[8]

When he was 14, the Spanish tennis federation requested that Nadal leave Mallorca and move to Barcelona to continue his tennis training. His family turned down this request, partly because they feared his education would suffer,[8] but also because Toni said that "I don't want to believe that you have to go to America, or other places to be a good athlete. You can do it from your home."[7] The decision to stay home meant less financial support from the federation; instead, Nadal's father covered the costs. In May 2001, he defeated former Grand Slam tournament champion Pat Cash in a clay-court exhibition match.[5]

Rafael Nadal Early life articles: 13

Professional tennis career

2001–2004: Early career and Davis Cup title

Nadal turned professional at age 15,[9] and participated in two events on the ITF junior circuit. On 29 April 2002, at 15 years and 10 months, the world No. 762 Nadal won his first ATP match, defeating Ramón Delgado,[10] and became the ninth player in the Open Era to do so before the age of 16.[11]

In 2001, Nadal finished the year with a Challenger series record of 1–1 in singles with no titles or finals appearances. He did not participate in any doubles Challengers events. At ITF Futures, Nadal's record was 7–5 in singles and 1–2 in doubles, with no titles or finals appearances.[12]

In 2002, aged 16, Nadal reached the semifinals of the Boys' Singles tournament at Wimbledon, in his first ITF junior event.[13] In the same year, he helped Spain defeat the US in the final of the Junior Davis Cup in his second, and final, appearance on the ITF junior circuit.[13][14] Nadal's Challenger level record in 2002 was 4–2 in singles with no titles. He did not participate in any doubles Challengers events. Nadal finished the year with a Futures record of 40–9 in singles and 10–9 in doubles. He won 6 singles tournaments at this level, including 5 on clay and 1 on hard courts. He did not reach any doubles finals.[15][16]

Nadal also entered the clay-court Mallorca Open, part of the ATP International Series, at the end of April as a wildcard, where he participated in both singles and doubles. In singles, Nadal won his first ever ATP match, defeating Ramón Delgado in the Round of 32. He then was defeated in the Round of 16 by Olivier Rochus.[15] In doubles, Nadal and his partner, Bartolomé Salvá Vidal, were defeated in the first round by David Adams and Simon Aspelin.[17]

Rafael Nadal singles-ranking history chart through January 2020
Singles ranking composite history chart through January 2020 (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic)

In 2003, Nadal won two Challenger titles and finished the year ranked No. 49. He won the ATP Newcomer of the Year Award. In his Wimbledon debut in 2003, he became the youngest man to reach the third round since Boris Becker in 1984.[18] After Wimbledon Nadal participated at Bastad, where he lost to Nicolas Lapentti in the quarterfinals, and at Stuttgart, where he lost to Fernando Gonzalez in the Round of 32. Finally, at Umag, he lost to Carlos Moya in the semifinals.

After playing two more Challenger level events, the last Challenger tournaments of his career, Nadal finished his 2003 campaign with three first round losses in ATP events.[12] Nadal also competed in seven doubles tournaments in 2003, and won his first ATP title (doubles or singles) at the clay-court Croatia Open in Umag, where he partnered with Álex López Morón to defeat Todd Perry and Thomas Shimada in straight sets in the final.[19]

2004 started with a doubles championship alongside Tommy Robredo at the Maharashtra Open.[20] In singles, Nadal reached the third round of the 2004 Australian Open where he lost in three sets against Australian Lleyton Hewitt. Later that year, the 34th-ranked 17-year-old played the first of many matches against Roger Federer, then ranked No. 1, at the Miami Open, and won in straight sets,[21][22] before losing to Fernando González in the fourth round. He was one of the six players who defeated Federer that year (along with Tim Henman, Albert Costa, Gustavo Kuerten, Dominik Hrbatý, and Tomáš Berdych). He missed most of the clay court season, including the French Open, because of a stress fracture in his left ankle.[5] In August, Nadal won his first ATP singles title at the Prokom Open by defeating José Acasuso in the final in two sets.[23]

Nadal, at 18 years and six months, became the youngest player to register a singles victory in a Davis Cup final for a winning nation.[24] By beating No. 2 Andy Roddick, he helped Spain clinch the 2004 title over the United States in a 3–2 win. He finished the year ranked No. 51.

2005: First Grand Slam title

At the 2005 Australian Open, Nadal lost in the fourth round to eventual runner-up Lleyton Hewitt. Two months later, he reached the final of the 2005 Miami Masters, and despite being two points from a straight-sets victory, he was defeated in five sets by No. 1 Roger Federer. Both performances were considered breakthroughs for Nadal.[25][26]

He then dominated the spring clay-court season. He won 24 consecutive singles matches, breaking Andre Agassi's Open Era record of consecutive match wins for a male teenager.[27] Nadal won the Torneo Conde de Godó in Barcelona and beat 2004 French Open runner-up Guillermo Coria in the finals of the 2005 Monte Carlo Masters and the 2005 Rome Masters. These victories raised his ranking to No. 5[28] and made him one of the favorites at his career-first French Open. On his 19th birthday, Nadal defeated Federer in the 2005 French Open semifinals, being one of only four players to defeat the top-seeded player that year (along with Marat Safin, Richard Gasquet, and David Nalbandian). Two days later, he defeated Mariano Puerta in the final, becoming the second male player, after Mats Wilander in 1982, to win the French Open on his first attempt. He was the first teenager to win a Grand Slam singles title since Pete Sampras won the 1990 US Open at age 19.[5] Winning improved his ranking to No. 3.[28]

Three days after his victory in Paris, Nadal's 24-match winning streak was snapped in the first round of the grass court Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany, where he lost to Alexander Waske.[29] He then lost in the second round of 2005 Wimbledon to Gilles Müller of Luxembourg. Immediately after Wimbledon, Nadal won 16 consecutive matches and three consecutive tournaments, bringing his ranking to No. 2 on 25 July 2005. Nadal started his North American summer hard-court season by defeating Agassi in the final of the 2005 Canada Masters, but lost in the first round of the 2005 Cincinnati Masters. Nadal was seeded second at the 2005 US Open, but was upset in the third round by No. 49 James Blake in four sets.

In September, he defeated Coria in the final of the China Open in Beijing and won both of his Davis Cup matches against Italy. In October, he won his fourth ATP Masters Series title of the year, defeating Ivan Ljubičić in the final of the 2005 Madrid Masters. He then suffered a foot injury that prevented his competing in the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup.[30]

Both Nadal and Federer won eleven singles titles and four ATP Masters Series titles in 2005. Nadal broke Mats Wilander's previous teenage record of nine in 1983.[31] Nine of Nadal's titles were on clay, and the remainder were on hard courts. Nadal won 79 matches, second only to Federer's 81. Nadal won the Golden Bagel Award for 2005, with eleven 6–0 sets during the year.[32] Also, he earned the highest year-end ranking ever by a Spaniard and the ATP Most Improved Player of the Year award.

2006: Second French Open title

Nadal missed the Australian Open because of a foot injury.[33] In February, he lost in the semifinals of the first tournament he played, the Open 13 tournament in Marseille, France. Two weeks later, he handed Roger Federer his first loss of the year in the final of the Dubai Duty Free Men's Open (in 2006, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray were the only two men who defeated Federer). To complete the spring hard-court season, Nadal was upset in the semifinals of the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, California, by James Blake, and was upset in the second round of the 2006 Miami Masters.

On European clay, Nadal won all four tournaments he entered and 24 consecutive matches. He defeated Federer in the final of the Masters Series Monte Carlo in four sets. The following week, he defeated Tommy Robredo in the final of the Open Sabadell Atlántico tournament in Barcelona. After a one-week break, Nadal won the Masters Series Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, defeating Federer in a fifth-set tiebreaker in the final, after saving two match points and equaling Björn Borg's tally of 16 ATP titles won as a teenager. Nadal broke Argentinian Guillermo Vilas's 29-year male record of 53 consecutive clay-court match victories by winning his first round match at the French Open. Vilas presented Nadal with a trophy, but commented later that Nadal's feat was less impressive than his own because Nadal's winning streak covered two years and was accomplished by adding easy tournaments to his schedule.[34] Nadal went on to play Federer in the final of the French Open. The first two sets of the match were hardly competitive, as the rivals traded 6–1 sets. Nadal won the third set easily and served for the match in the fourth set before Federer broke him and forced a tiebreaker. Nadal won the tiebreaker and became the first to defeat Federer in a Grand Slam tournament final.[35]

2006 French Open champion

Nadal injured his shoulder during a quarterfinal match against Lleyton Hewitt at the Artois Championships, played on grass at the Queen's Club in London.[36] Nadal was unable to complete the match, which ended his 26-match winning streak. Nadal was seeded second at Wimbledon, and was two points from defeat against American qualifier Robert Kendrick in the second round before coming back to win in five sets. In the third round, Nadal defeated No. 20 Andre Agassi in straight sets in Agassi's last career match at Wimbledon. Nadal also won his next three matches in straight sets, which set up his first Wimbledon final, which was against Federer, who had won this tournament the three previous years. Nadal was the first Spanish man since Manuel Santana in 1966, to reach the Wimbledon final, but Federer won the match in four sets to win his fourth consecutive Wimbledon title.

During the lead up to the US Open, Nadal played the two Masters Series tournaments in North America. He was upset in the third round of the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the quarterfinals of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati. Nadal was seeded second at the US Open, but lost in the quarterfinals to No. 54 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in four sets.

Nadal played only three tournaments the remainder of the year. Joachim Johansson, ranked No. 690, upset Nadal in the second round of the Stockholm Open. The following week, Nadal lost to Tomáš Berdych in the quarterfinals of the year's last Masters Series tournament, the Mutua Madrileña Masters in Madrid. During the round-robin stage of the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup, Nadal lost to James Blake but defeated Nikolay Davydenko and Robredo. Because of those two victories, Nadal qualified for the semifinals, where he lost to Federer. This was Nadal's third loss in nine career matches with Federer.

Nadal went on to become the first player since Andre Agassi in 1994–95 to finish the year ranked No. 2 in consecutive years.

2007: Third French Open title

Nadal started the year by playing in six hard-court tournaments. He lost in the semifinals and first round of his first two tournaments and then lost in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open to eventual runner-up Fernando González. After another quarterfinal loss at the Dubai Tennis Championships, he won the 2007 Indian Wells Masters, before Novak Djokovic defeated him in the quarterfinals of the 2007 Miami Masters.

He had comparatively more success after returning to Europe to play five clay-court tournaments. He won the titles at the Masters Series Monte Carlo, the Open Sabadell Atlántico in Barcelona, and the Masters Series Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome, before losing to Roger Federer in the final of the Masters Series Hamburg. This defeat ended his 81-match winning streak on clay, which is the male Open Era record for consecutive wins on a single surface. He then rebounded to win the French Open for the third straight year, defeating Federer once again in the final. Between the tournaments in Barcelona and Rome, Nadal defeated Federer in the "Battle of Surfaces" exhibition match in Mallorca, Spain, with the tennis court being half grass and half clay.[37]

Nadal played the Artois Championships at the Queen's Club in London for the second consecutive year. As in 2006, Nadal was upset in the quarterfinals. Nadal then won consecutive five-set matches during the third and fourth rounds of Wimbledon before being beaten by Federer in the five-set final. This was Federer's first five-set match at Wimbledon since 2001.[38] In July, Nadal won the clay court Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, which proved to be his last title of the year. He played three important tournaments during the North American summer hard court season. He was a semifinalist at the Masters Series Rogers Cup in Montreal before losing his first match at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati. He was the second-seeded player at the US Open, but was defeated in the fourth round by David Ferrer.

After a month-long break from tournament tennis, Nadal played the Mutua Madrileña Masters in Madrid and the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. David Nalbandian upset him in the quarterfinals and final of those tournaments. To end the year, Nadal won two of his three-round robin matches to advance to the semifinals of the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, where Federer defeated him in straight sets.

During the second half of the year, Nadal battled a knee injury suffered during the Wimbledon final. In addition, there were rumors at the end of the year that the foot injury he suffered during 2005, caused long-term damage, which were given credence by coach Toni Nadal's claim that the problem was "serious". Nadal and his spokesman strongly denied this, however, with Nadal himself calling the story "totally false".[39]

2008: Two majors, Olympic gold, second Davis Cup, No. 1 ranking

Nadal began the year in India, where he was comprehensively beaten by Mikhail Youzhny in the final of the Chennai Open. Nadal then reached the semifinals of the Australian Open for the first time. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga defeated Nadal in the semifinal of 2008 Australian Open. Nadal also reached the final of the Miami Masters for the second time.

During the spring clay-court season, Nadal won four singles titles and defeated Roger Federer in three finals. He beat Federer at the Masters Series Monte Carlo for the third straight year, capturing his Open Era record fourth consecutive title there.[40] Nadal then won his fourth consecutive title at the Open Sabadell Atlántico tournament in Barcelona. A few weeks later, Nadal won his first title at the Masters Series Hamburg, defeating Federer in a three-set final. He then won the French Open, becoming the fifth man in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam singles title without losing a set.[41] He defeated Federer in the final for the third straight year, but this was the most lopsided of all their matches, as Nadal only lost four games and gave Federer his first bagel since 1999.[40] This was Nadal's fourth consecutive French title, tying Björn Borg's all-time record. Nadal became the fourth male player during Open era to win the same Grand Slam singles tournament four consecutive years (the others being Borg, Pete Sampras, and Federer).

Nadal then played Federer in the final of Wimbledon for the third consecutive year, in the most anticipated match of their rivalry.[42][43] Nadal entered the final on a 23-match winning streak, including his first career grass-court title at the Artois Championships staged at the Queen's Club in London prior to Wimbledon. Federer had won his record fifth grass-court title at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, and then reached the Wimbledon final without losing a set. Unlike their previous two Wimbledon finals, though, Federer was not the prohibitive favorite, and many analysts picked Nadal to win.[43][44] They played the longest (in terms of time on court, not in terms of numbers of games) final in Wimbledon history, and because of rain delays, Nadal won the fifth set 9–7 in near-darkness. (The 2019 final later broke the record of longest Wimbledon final.) The match was widely lauded as the greatest Wimbledon final ever, with some tennis critics even calling it the greatest match in tennis history.[45][46][47][48][49]

By winning his first Wimbledon title, Nadal became the third man in the open era to win both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year, after Rod Laver in 1969, and Borg in 1978–1980, (Federer later accomplished this the following year) as well as the second Spaniard to win Wimbledon. He also ended Federer's record streak of five consecutive Wimbledon titles and 65 straight wins on grass courts. This was also the first time that Nadal won two Grand Slam tournaments back-to-back.

After Wimbledon, Nadal extended his winning streak to a career-best 32 matches. He won his second Rogers Cup title in Toronto, and then made it into the semifinals of the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati. As a result, Nadal clinched the US Open Series and, combined with Federer's early-round losses in both of those tournaments, finally earned the world No. 1 ranking on 18 August, officially ending Federer's record four-and-a-half-year reign at the top.

At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Nadal defeated Fernando González of Chile in the final to win his first Olympic gold medal.[50]

At the US Open, Nadal was the top-seeded player for the first time at a Grand Slam tournament. He did not lose a set during his first three matches, defeating qualifiers in the first and second rounds and Viktor Troicki in the third round. In the semifinals, he lost to Andy Murray. Later in the year in Madrid, Nadal helped Spain defeat the United States in the Davis Cup semifinals.

At the Mutua Madrileña Masters in Madrid, Nadal lost in the semifinals to Gilles Simon. However, his performance at the event guaranteed that he would become the first Spaniard during the open era to finish the year ranked No. 1.[51] Two weeks later at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris, Nadal reached the quarterfinals, where he withdrew because of a knee injury.[52] The following week, Nadal announced his withdrawal from the year-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai, citing tendinitis of the knee. On 10 November, Nadal withdrew from Spain's Davis Cup final against Argentina, as his knee injury had not healed completely.[53]

2009: Australian Open and Davis Cup titles

Nadal's first official ATP tour event for the year was the 250 series Qatar Open in Doha, where he lost in the quarterfinals to Gaël Monfils. Nadal also entered and won the tournament's doubles event with partner Marc López, defeating the No. 1-ranked doubles team of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjić in the final. At the 2009 Australian Open, Nadal won his first five matches without dropping a set, before defeating compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the semifinals in the second longest match in Australian Open history at 5 hours and 14 minutes.[54] This win set up a championship match with Roger Federer, their first meeting ever in a hard-court Grand Slam tournament. Nadal defeated Federer in five sets to earn his first hard-court Grand Slam singles title,[55] making him the first Spaniard to win the Australian Open.[56]

At the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Nadal lost in the final to second-seeded Andy Murray in three sets.[57] Although this knee problem was not associated with Nadal's right-knee tendonitis, it was serious enough to cause him to withdraw from the Dubai Championships a week later.[58] In March, Nadal helped Spain defeat Serbia in a Davis Cup World Group first-round tie on clay in Benidorm, Spain. Nadal defeated Janko Tipsarević and Novak Djokovic.[59][60] At the 2009 Indian Wells Masters, Nadal won his thirteenth Masters 1000 series tournament, defeating Murray in the final. The next ATP tour event was the 2009 Miami Masters. Nadal advanced to the quarterfinals, where he again faced Argentinian del Potro, this time losing the match.[61]

Nadal began his European clay court season at the Monte Carlo Masters, where he defeated Novak Djokovic to win a record fifth consecutive singles title there.[62] He then won back to back titles in Barcelona and Rome Masters, defeating Ferrer and Djokovic respectively.[63][64] He then surprisingly lost the final of the Madrid Open to Roger Federer. This was the first time that Nadal had lost to Federer since the semifinals of the 2007 Tennis Masters Cup.

Nadal at 2009 Sony Ericsson Open, Miami, Florida, United States

By beating Lleyton Hewitt in the third round of the French Open, Nadal set a record of 31 consecutive wins at the French Open, beating the previous record of 28 by Björn Borg. This run came to an end on 31 May 2009, when Nadal lost to eventual runner-up, Robin Söderling in the 4th round. This was Nadal's first and, until 2015, only loss at the French Open. After his surprise defeat in France, Nadal withdrew from the AEGON Championships. It was confirmed that he was suffering from tendinitis in both of his knees.[65] On 19 June, Nadal withdrew from the 2009 Wimbledon Championships, citing his recurring knee injury.[66] Roger Federer went on to win the title, and Nadal consequently dropped back to No. 2 on 6 July 2009.

On 4 August, Toni Nadal confirmed that Nadal would return to play at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.[67] There, he lost in the quarterfinals to Juan Martín del Potro.[68] With this loss, he relinquished the No. 2 spot to Andy Murray on 17 August 2009, ranking outside the top two for the first time since 25 July 2005.

At the US Open Nadal fell in the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Juan Martín del Potro.[69] At the World Tour Finals, Nadal lost all three of his matches against Robin Söderling, Nikolay Davydenko, and Novak Djokovic respectively without winning a set. In December, Nadal participated in the second Davis Cup final of his career. He defeated Tomáš Berdych in his first singles rubber to give the Spanish Davis Cup Team their first point in the tie. After the Spanish Davis Cup team had secured its fourth Davis Cup victory, Nadal defeated Jan Hájek in the first Davis Cup dead rubber of his career.

Nadal finished the year as No. 2 for the fourth time in five years. Nadal won the Golden Bagel Award for the third time in 2009, with nine 6–0 sets during the year.

2010: Grand Slam titles on three surfaces and Career Golden Slam

Nadal has called 2010 his best year as a professional tennis player. The 2010 tennis season Nadal became the only male player in tennis history to win Grand Slam tournaments on three different surfaces (clay, grass and hard court) the same calendar year.

Nadal began the year by participating in the Capitala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. In the final, Nadal defeated Robin Söderling in straight sets.[70] Nadal participated in the Qatar ExxonMobil Open ATP 250 event in Doha, where he lost in the finals to Nikolay Davydenko.[71][71] In the Australian Open, Nadal reached the quarterfinals, where he had to pull out at 3–0 down in the third set against Andy Murray.[72] After examining Nadal's knees, doctors told him that he should take two weeks of rest, and then two weeks of rehabilitation.

Nadal at the 2010 Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open, Madrid, Spain

Nadal reached the semifinals in singles at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where he was defeated by Ivan Ljubičić in three sets.[73] After Indian Wells, Nadal reached the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open, where he lost to eventual champion Andy Roddick in three sets.[74] Nadal won the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, beating Fernando Verdasco in the final. With this win, Nadal became the first player in the open era to win a tournament title for six straight years.[75] Nadal next chose to skip the Barcelona tournament, and his next tournament was the Rome Masters. He defeated David Ferrer in the final for his fifth title at Rome. Nadal then won the 2010 Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open, defeating Roger Federer in straight sets. The win gave him his 18th Masters title, breaking the all-time record. Nadal moved back to No. 2 the following day.

Entering the French Open, many were expecting another Nadal-Federer final. However, Robin Söderling defeated Federer in the quarterfinals.[76] Nadal advanced to the final and defeated Söderling in straight sets. The victory marked the second time that Nadal had won the French Open without dropping a set.

In June, Nadal entered the AEGON Championships, which he had won in 2008. He was defeated by compatriot Feliciano López in the quarterfinals. At the Wimbledon Championships, he won his first two matches in straight sets. In the third round he needed five sets to defeat Philipp Petzschner. During the match Nadal was warned twice for allegedly receiving coaching from his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, resulting in a $2,000 fine by Wimbledon officials.[77][78] He then defeated Andy Murray in the semifinals and Tomáš Berdych in the final to win his second Wimbledon title and his eighth career major title[79] just past the age of 24.[80]

In his first tournament since Wimbledon, Nadal advanced to the semifinals of the Rogers Cup, where he was defeated by Andy Murray.[81] Nadal also competed in the doubles with Djokovic in a high-profile partnership between the world Nos. 1 and 2.[82] The pair lost in the first round to Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil. The next week, Nadal was the top seed at the Cincinnati Masters, losing in the quarterfinals to Marcos Baghdatis.

At the 2010 US Open, Nadal reached his first final without dropping a set. In the final, he defeated Novak Djokovic in four sets, completing the Career Grand Slam for Nadal; he also became the second male after Andre Agassi to complete a Career Golden Slam.[83] Nadal's US Open victory meant that he also became the first man to win majors on clay, grass, and hard courts in the same year, and the first to win the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.[84] Nadal's victory also clinched the year-end No. 1 ranking for 2010.[85]

Nadal began his Asian tour at the 2010 PTT Thailand Open in Bangkok where he lost to compatriot Guillermo García-López in the semifinals. Nadal was able to regroup, winning the 2010 Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships in Tokyo by defeating Gaël Monfils for his seventh title of the season. Nadal next played in the Shanghai Rolex Masters, where he lost to No. 12 Jürgen Melzer in the third round. On 5 November, Nadal announced that he was pulling out of the Paris Masters owing to tendinitis in his left shoulder.[86] On 21 November 2010, in London, Nadal won the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the first time.[87]

At the 2010 ATP World Tour Finals in London, Nadal won all of his round-robin matches. In the semifinal, he defeated Murray in three sets, before losing to Roger Federer in the final.[88]

2011: Sixth French Open title and Davis Cup crown

Nadal started 2011 by participating in the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi. In the final, he won over Roger Federer. At the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, he fell in straight sets Nikolay Davydenko in the semifinals.[89] He and countryman López won the doubles title by defeating Daniele Bracciali and Andreas Seppi.[90]

Nadal at the 2011 Australian Open

In the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, Nadal suffered a hamstring injury against David Ferrer early in the pair's quarterfinal match and ultimately lost in straight sets, thus ending his effort to win four major tournaments in a row.[91]

In March, Nadal helped Spain defeat Belgium in a 2011 Davis Cup World Group first-round tie in the Spiroudome in Charleroi, Belgium. Nadal defeated Ruben Bemelmans and Olivier Rochus.[92][93] At both the 2011 BNP Paribas Open and the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open, Nadal reached the final and lost to Novak Djokovic in three sets.[94][95] This was the first time Nadal reached the finals of Indian Wells and Miami in the same year.

Nadal began his clay-court season by winning the 2011 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters with the loss of just one set. In the final, he avenged his defeat by David Ferrer in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.[96] Just a week later, Nadal won his sixth Barcelona Open crown, again defeating Ferrer in straight sets. He then lost to Novak Djokovic in the Rome Masters and Madrid Open finals.[97] However, Nadal retained his No. 1 ranking during the clay-court season and won his sixth French Open title by defeating Roger Federer.[98]

At Wimbledon, Nadal reached the final after three four-set matches. This set up a final against No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who had beaten Nadal in all four of their matches in 2011. After dropping the third set, Djokovic defeated Nadal in the fourth. Djokovic's success at the tournament also meant that the Serb overtook Nadal as world No. 1. After resting for a month from a foot injury sustained during Wimbledon, he contested the 2011 Rogers Cup, where he was beaten by Croatian Ivan Dodig in the quarterfinals. He next played in the 2011 Cincinnati Masters, where he lost to Mardy Fish, again in the quarterfinals.

At the 2011 US Open, Nadal made headlines when after defeating David Nalbandian in the fourth round, he collapsed in his post-match press conference because to severe cramps.[99] He again lost in four sets to Novak Djokovic in the final. After the US Open, Nadal made the final of the Japan Open Tennis Championships. Nadal, who was the 2010 champion, was defeated by Andy Murray. At the Shanghai Masters, he was upset in the third round by No. 23 ranked Florian Mayer. At the 2011 ATP World Tour Finals, Nadal was defeated by Roger Federer and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the round-robin stage, and was subsequently eliminated from the tournament. In the Davis Cup final in December, he helped Spain win the title with victories over Juan Mónaco and Juan Martín del Potro.[100]

2012: Seventh French Open title

Nadal began his ATP World Tour season at the Qatar Open. In the semifinal he lost to Gaël Monfils in two sets.[101] In the Australian Open Nadal won his first four matches without dropping a set. He then won in his quarterfinal and semifinal matches against Tomáš Berdych and Roger Federer respectively. In the final, on 29 January, he was beaten by Novak Djokovic in a five-set match that lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes, the longest Grand Slam final of all time.[102]

Nadal made it to the semifinals in Indian Wells, where he was beaten in straight sets by eventual champion Roger Federer. He also made the semifinals in Miami, but withdrew because of knee problems.

As the clay court season started, Nadal was seeded 2nd at the 2012 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. In the final he topped No. 1 Novak Djokovic to win his 8th consecutive Monte Carlo trophy. This ended a streak of seven straight final losses to Djokovic. A day after the Monte Carlo final, Nadal traveled to Barcelona where he received a bye in the first round. His tremendous record on clay continued as he beat compatriot David Ferrer in a three-set final to clinch his seventh title in eight years at the Barcelona Open. At the Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open Nadal surprisingly lost to Fernando Verdasco, whom he held a 13–0 record against. He heavily criticized the new blue-colored clay and threatened not to attend in the future if the surface was not changed back to red clay. Several other players such as Novak Djokovic voiced similar criticism.[103] In the last tournament before the French Open, Nadal defeated Djokovic in a tight straight set final. This was his second victory over Novak Djokovic in 2012 and his third title of the season, as well as his 6th Rome title overall.

At the 2012 French Open, Nadal dropped only 30 games against his first five opponents. In the semifinals he dismantled Ferrer to set up another final against Novak Djokovic. This marked the first time two opposing players faced each other in four consecutive Grand Slam finals. Nadal won the first two sets before Djokovic claimed the third. Play was suspended in the fourth set due to rain. When the match resumed the following day, Nadal won when Djokovic double faulted on match point, sealing a record 7th French Open title for Nadal.[104] By winning his seventh title[105] at Stade Roland Garros, Nadal surpassed Borg's overall titles record[106] to become the most successful male player in French Open history.[107] Nadal lost a total of only three sets in the 2012 clay court season.

As a warm-up ahead of Wimbledon Nadal played in Halle, losing to Philipp Kohlschreiber in the quarterfinals.[108] At Wimbledon, Nadal was upset in the second round by Lukáš Rosol in a close five-set match. This was the first time since the Wimbledon 2005 championships that Nadal had failed to progress past the 2nd round of a Grand Slam tournament.[109]

In July 2012, Nadal withdrew from the 2012 Olympics owing to tendinitis in his knee, which subsequently led to him pulling out of both the Rogers Cup and the Cincinnati Masters. He later withdrew from the rest of the 2012 season, as he felt he still was not healthy enough to compete.[110][111] Nadal ended 2012 ranked No. 4 in the world, the first time in eight years that he has not been ranked 1st or 2nd at the end of the year.

2013: Two major titles, back to No. 1

Two weeks prior to the Australian Open, Nadal officially withdrew from the tournament citing a stomach virus.[112] Nadal's withdrawal saw him drop out of the ATP's Top Four for the first time since 2005.[113] Playing in his first tournaments in South America since 2005, Nadal made his comeback at the VTR Open in Chile,[114] where he was upset by Argentine No. 73 Horacio Zeballos in the final. At the Brasil Open, Nadal reached the final, where he defeated David Nalbandian.[115] In the title match of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco, Nadal defeated David Ferrer, losing just two games in the match.

Nadal at the 2013 BNP Paribas Open

Nadal then returned to the American hard courts, playing the Indian Wells Masters as the fifth seed. He lost only one set, and defeated No. 2 Roger Federer and No. 6 Tomáš Berdych before beating Juan Martín del Potro in the final. After withdrawing from Miami, Nadal attempted to defend his title at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, but was beaten by Djokovic in straight sets. He then won his eight title at the Barcelona Open. Nadal went on to win the Mutua Madrid Open, beating Stanislas Wawrinka in the final.

In May, he defeated Roger Federer for his 7th championship at the 2013 Rome Masters. These victories raised his ranking to No. 4.

Nadal won the 2013 French Open after beating Novak Djokovic in the semifinal and David Ferrer in the final, breaking the record for the most match wins in the tournament in the process with his 59th match victory.[116] His match with Djokovic is widely considered one of the greatest clay court matches ever played, as Nadal came back from down a break in the fifth set to take out a hard-fought 4-hour, 37-minute victory. Nadal then lost his first-round match at the 2013 Wimbledon Championships in straight sets to unseeded Belgian Steve Darcis (ranked No. 135), the first time he had ever lost in the first round of a Grand Slam.

In August, Nadal won a close semifinal match in Montreal, denying Djokovic his fourth Rogers Cup title.[117] Nadal proceeded to win the title after beating Milos Raonic in the final in straight sets.[118] He won his 26th ATP Masters 1000 in Cincinnati on Sunday 18 August after beating John Isner in the final.[119] Nadal concluded a brilliant North American hard court season with his 4th hard court title of the year, defeating Djokovic at the 2013 US Open final in four sets, bringing his Grand Slam count to 13 and giving him a male tennis record paycheck of $3.6 million.[120][121]

Later in September, Nadal helped Spain secure their Davis Cup World Group Playoff spot for 2014, with a victory against Sergiy Stakhovsky and a doubles win with Marc Lopez. In October, he reached the final of the China Open, guaranteeing he would be back to the No. 1 ranking.[122] In the final, he was beaten by Djokovic in straight sets.[123] At the 2013 Shanghai Rolex Masters, he reached the semifinals but was defeated by Del Potro. In November, Nadal played his final event of the season in London at the 2013 ATP World Tour Finals where he secured the year-end No. 1 spot. He beat David Ferrer, Stanislas Wawrinka and Tomáš Berdych in the round robin stage to set up a semifinal victory over Roger Federer. Nadal met Djokovic in the final, losing in straight sets.

2014: Ninth French Open title and injuries

Rafael Nadal began his 2014 season at the Qatar Open in Doha, defeating Lukáš Rosol in the first round[124] and he won the title after defeating Gaël Monfils in the final.[125]

At the Australian Open, he defeated Roger Federer to reach his third Australian Open final. This marked Nadal's 11th consecutive victory in a Major semifinal, second only to Borg's all-time record of 14. In the final, he faced Stanislas Wawrinka, against whom he entered the match with a 12–0 record. However, Nadal suffered a back injury during the warm-up, which progressively worsened as the match wore on.[126] Nadal lost the first two sets, and although he won the third set, he ultimately lost the match in four sets. The first tournament he played after that was the inaugural Rio Open which he won after defeating Alexandr Dolgopolov in the final. However, at the Indian Wells Masters, Dolgopolov would avenge his loss, defeating Nadal in three sets in the third round. He reached the final of the Miami Masters, falling to Novak Djokovic in straight sets.

Nadal began his clay court season with a quarterfinal loss to David Ferrer in the Monte-Carlo Masters. He was stunned by Nicolas Almagro in the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Open. Nadal then won his 27th masters title at the Madrid Open after Kei Nishikori retired in the third set of the final.[127] On 8 June 2014, Nadal defeated Novak Djokovic in the Men's Singles French Open final to win his 9th French Open title and a 5th straight win. Nadal equaled Pete Sampras' total of 14 Grand Slam wins.[128] Nadal then lost in the second round of the Halle Open to Dustin Brown the following week.[129]

Nadal entered the Wimbledon Championships in a bid to win the tournament for the third time. In the fourth round he was upset by Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios in four sets.[130] Nadal withdrew from the American swing owing to a wrist injury.[131] He made his return at the 2014 China Open but was defeated in the quarterfinals by Martin Klizan in three sets.[132] At the 2014 Shanghai Rolex Masters, he was suffering from appendicitis. He lost his opening match to Feliciano Lopez in straight sets.[133] Later, he was upset by Borna Ćorić at the quarterfinals of the 2014 Swiss Indoors. After the loss, he announced that he would skip the rest of the season to undergo surgery for his appendix.[134]

2015: Continued struggles and rankings drop

Nadal began the year as the defending Champion at the Qatar Open, but suffered a shocking three set defeat to Michael Berrer in the first round.[135] He won the doubles title with Juan Mónaco. At the Australian Open, Nadal lost in straight sets to Tomáš Berdych in the quarterfinal, thus ending a 17-match winning streak against the seventh-seeded Czech.[136]

Nadal at the 2015 Aegon Championships in London

In February, Nadal lost in the semifinals to Fabio Fognini at the Rio Open,[137] before going on to win his 46th career clay-court title against Juan Mónaco at the Argentina Open.[138] Nadal then participated at the Indian Wells and Miami Open but suffered early defeats to Milos Raonic and Fernando Verdasco, in the quarterfinals and third round respectively.[139][140] Nadal then began his spring clay season at the Monte Carlo Masters and reached the semifinals where he lost to Novak Djokovic in straight sets.[141] After losing to Fognini again at the Barcelona Open quarterfinals,[142] Nadal entered the Madrid Open as the two-time defending champion but lost in the final to Andy Murray in straight sets, resulting in his dropping out of the top five for the first time since 2005.[143][144] He then lost in the quarterfinals of the Rome Masters to Stan Wawrinka in straight sets.[145]

Nadal lost to eventual runner-up Djokovic in the quarterfinals of the French Open, ending his winning streak of 39 consecutive victories in Paris since his defeat by Robin Söderling in 2009.[146] Nadal went on to win the 2015 Mercedes Cup against Serbian Viktor Troicki, his first grass court title since he won at Wimbledon in 2010.[147] He was unable to continue his good form on grass as he lost in the first round of the Aegon Championships to Alexandr Dolgopolov in three sets.[148] Nadal's struggles continued when he lost in the second round of Wimbledon to Dustin Brown.[149]

In the third round of the 2015 US Open, Nadal once again lost to Fognini, despite having won the first two sets.[150] This early exit ended Nadal's record 10-year streak of winning at least one major.

2016: Second Olympic gold medal

Nadal started the year winning Mubadala Title defeating Milos Raonic in straight sets. After that, he entered the Doha, Qatar, where he reached the finals, losing to Djokovic in straight sets. This was their 47th match, after which Djokovic led their head-to-head rivalry with 24 matches won. At the Australian Open, Nadal was defeated in five sets by compatriot Fernando Verdasco in the first round. The defeat marked his first opening round exit at the Australian Open.[151]

Nadal at the 2016 US Open

In April he won his 28th Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo.[152] He went on to win his 17th ATP 500 in Barcelona, winning the trophy for the ninth time in his career.[153] He continued the clay court season in Madrid, falling to Murray in the semifinal.[154]

The following week, Nadal played in Rome Masters where he reached the quarterfinal. Nadal was again defeated by Djokovic in straight sets, although he had a break advantage in both sets and served to win the second.[155]

Following Federer's withdrawal due to injury, Nadal was named the fourth seed at the French Open.[156] On 26 May, he became the eighth male player in tennis history to record 200 Grand Slam match wins, as he defeated Facundo Bagnis in straight sets in the second round of the Slam.[157] Following the victory, however, Nadal had to withdraw from competition owing to a left wrist injury initially suffered during the Madrid Open,[158] handing Marcel Granollers a walk-over into the fourth round.[159] On 9 June, Nadal announced that the same wrist injury that forced him to withdraw from the French Open needed more time to heal, and that he would not play at the 2016 Wimbledon Championships.[160] At the Rio 2016 Olympics, Nadal achieved 800 career wins with his quarterfinal victory over the Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci. Partnering Marc López, he won the gold medal in men's doubles event for Spain by defeating Romania's Florin Mergea and Horia Tecau in the finals.[161] This made Nadal the second man in the open era to have won gold medals in both singles and doubles. Nadal also advanced to the bronze medal match in the men's singles but was defeated by Kei Nishikori.

At the US Open Nadal was seeded #4 and advanced to the fourth round but was defeated by 24th seed Lucas Pouille in 5 sets. The defeat meant that 2016 was the first year since 2004 in which Nadal had failed to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final.[162] He played the Shanghai Masters and was upset in the second round by Viktor Troicki. He subsequently ended his 2016 season to let his wrist recover.

2017: Two major titles and year-end No. 1

Nadal opened his season by playing at the Brisbane International for the first time, where he reached the quarterfinals before losing to Milos Raonic in three sets.[163] In the second round of the tournament, he defeated Mischa Zverev for the loss of just two games;[164] Nadal began the Australian Open with straight-set wins over Florian Mayer and Marcos Baghdatis, before more difficult wins over Alexander Zverev and Gael Monfils, which set up his first quarterfinal berth at a Grand Slam since the 2015 French Open. Nadal defeated Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinal and semifinal, respectively (the latter lasting for five sets over five hours), to set up a final against Roger Federer, his first Grand Slam final since he won the 2014 French Open. Nadal went on to lose to Federer in five sets; this was the first time that Nadal had lost to Federer in a Grand Slam since the final of the 2007 Wimbledon Championships.

Nadal made it to the final of Acapulco without dropping a set, but was defeated by big-serving Sam Querrey. In a rematch of the Australian Open final Nadal took on Roger Federer in the fourth round at Indian Wells but again lost to his old rival, this time in straight sets; it was their earliest meeting in a tournament in over a decade. In the Miami Masters, Nadal reached the final to again play Federer, and was once again defeated in straight sets.[165] Nadal then won his 29th Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo; it was his tenth victory in the principality, the most wins by any player at a single tournament in the Open era.[166] Nadal won his 18th ATP 500 title in Barcelona without dropping a set, also marking his tenth victory in Barcelona.[167] Nadal next played in the Madrid Open, where he defeated Dominic Thiem to tie Novak Djokovic's all-time Masters record of 30 titles.[168]

Nadal at the 2017 French Open where he won his 10th French Open title

Nadal went on to beat Stan Wawrinka in straight sets and win a record tenth French Open title. This marked his first Grand Slam title since 2014, ending his three-year drought in Grand Slams.[169] Nadal won every set that he played in the tournament, dropping a total of only 35 games over his seven matches, which is the second-fewest by any male (second only to Björn Borg's 32 dropped games at the 1978 French Open) on the way to a title at a Grand Slam tournament in the Open era with all matches being best-of-five-sets. The achievement, called "La Décima" ("the tenth" in Spanish), made Nadal the first male or female in the Open era to win ten titles from a single Grand Slam tournament, following similar achievements in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. Nadal also climbed to second on the all-time Grand Slam titles list, with 15 grand slam championships, putting him one ahead of Pete Sampras.[170]

Nadal lost in the round of 16 at Wimbledon, 13–15 in the fifth set, to Gilles Müller.[171] He returned to competition in Montreal. He won his first match against Coric in straight sets but fell in the Round of 16 to Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov. By 21 August, he retook the ATP No. 1 ranking from Andy Murray. Nadal earned his third US Open title against first-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson, winning the final in straight sets. This marked the first time that Nadal had captured two Grand Slam tournaments in a year since 2013, and the second time since 2010. Nadal extended his winning streak by winning the China Open, winning the final against Nick Kyrgios in straight sets.[172] On 11 September 2017, Nadal and Garbiñe Muguruza made Spain the first country since the United States 14 years ago to simultaneously top both the ATP and the WTA rankings, with Muguruza making her debut in the No. 1 spot.[173]

After defeating Hyeon Chung in the second round of the Paris Masters Nadal secured the year-end No. 1. He became year-end No. 1 for the fourth time in his career, tying him for fourth all-time with Novak Djokovic, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe, behind Pete Sampras (6), and Roger Federer and Jimmy Connors (5). By securing the year-end no. 1 ranking, Nadal became the first player aged over 30 to finish as year-end No. 1 and the first to finish in the top spot four years since he last achieved the feat; he also broke a number of other historical records, all of which he broke again in 2019.[174]

2018: 11th French Open title

Nadal began his 2018 season at the Kooyong Classic, where he lost to Richard Gasquet in the first round. He then played at the Tie Break Tens exhibition tournament in Melbourne, losing in the final to Tomáš Berdych. At the Australian Open, Nadal recorded straight-sets wins in the first three rounds, before notching a tougher four-set win against Diego Schwartzman in the fourth round. He faced Marin Čilić in the quarterfinal, but retired in the fifth set due to a hip injury.[175]

On 16 February, Nadal dropped to the No. 2 ranking after 26 weeks at the top when his rival Roger Federer overtook him in points. Nadal withdrew from the Mexican Open, Indian Wells Masters, and Miami Open due to an injury. Despite his absence in Miami, he regained the No. 1 ranking on 2 April due to Federer's second-round loss. After recovering from injury, Nadal helped secure the Spanish Davis Cup team a victory over Germany in the quarterfinal of the World Group. He beat Philipp Kohlschreiber and Alexander Zverev in straight sets.[176]

At the Monte Carlo Masters, Nadal successfully defended his title and won a record-breaking 31st Masters title, thus becoming the player with the most Masters 1000 titles in tennis history. It also marked his 11th title in Monte Carlo, as well as the 76th title in his career. Because he defended the points won the previous year, he kept his No. 1 ranking and began his 171st week as the world No. 1.[177] Nadal won in Monte Carlo without dropping a set, beating Kei Nishikori in the final. Nadal went on to win his 11th title in Barcelona, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets, becoming the first player in the open era to win 400 matches on both clay and hard.[178][179] The win marked his 20th ATP 500 series title, which put him back atop the list of most ATP 500 titles, tied with Roger Federer. It also marked his 14th consecutive season with at least one ATP 500 title.

Fresh after achieving the 'Undecima' at Monte Carlo and Barcelona, Nadal had to defend yet another title at Madrid. He reached the quarterfinals, defeating Gael Monfils and Diego Schwartzman in straight sets, to extend his record to 50 consecutive sets won on clay, starting from the 2017 French Open. His win over Schwartzman broke John McEnroe's record of 49 straight sets won on a single surface.[180] McEnroe had previously achieved the record on carpet in 1984. In a surprise, Nadal lost in straight sets to Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals, ending his 21-match and record 50-set winning streaks on clay. He also relinquished his world No. 1 ranking to Federer in the process.

At the Rome Masters, Nadal captured his 8th title in the Italian capital as well as his 78th career title, defeating Alexander Zverev in three sets, thus overtaking John McEnroe in the fourth place on the list of most titles won in the Open Era.[181] It was Nadal's 32nd Masters title – most of any player in the Open Era. With his victory in Rome, Nadal also regained the No. 1 spot from Federer.

Then at the French Open, Nadal won his 17th Grand Slam title. This tied Margaret Court's record for singles titles at a Grand Slam event (Court won 11 Australian Opens, but seven came when it was the Australian Championships, an amateur event). En route to the title, Nadal dropped only one set, beating Dominic Thiem in the final in three sets.[182] Nadal became just the fourth man in the Open Era to win three or more major titles after turning 30.

Going into Wimbledon, Nadal was ranked world number one, but was seeded second due to Wimbledon's seeding algorithm. He made it to the quarterfinals without dropping set. He then faced #5 seed Juan Martín del Potro, who he defeated in five sets. In the semifinals he faced long-time rival Novak Djokovic, who was aiming to reach his first major final since the 2016 US Open. This match lasted 5 hours and 17 minutes, spread over two days, becoming the second-longest Wimbledon semifinal in history, second only to the match between Kevin Anderson and John Isner held earlier on the same day. Djokovic defeated Nadal in five sets with the fifth set being 10–8.[183] This was Nadal's first defeat in the semifinals of a major since the 2009 US Open, and his first ever defeat in the semifinals of Wimbledon. Despite this, Nadal achieved his best results at Wimbledon since 2011. This performance, combined with Roger Federer's unsuccessful title defense, ensured that Nadal retained the world number one ranking after the grass season.

He then won the Rogers Cup, a record-extending 33rd Masters 1000 title.[184] This was Nadal's first Masters 1000 title win on hard court since 2013. He then withdrew from the Cincinnati Masters to prepare for the US Open. Nadal was the top seed during his title defense at the US Open. He first faced David Ferrer in Ferrer's last Grand Slam match, who retired due to injury during the second set. In his semi-final matchup against Juan Martin del Potro, Nadal retired after losing the second set 6–2 due to knee pain. On 31 October, he announced his withdrawal from the Paris Masters due to an abdominal injury and as a result Novak Djokovic replaced him as world No. 1.[185]

2019: Two major titles, year-end No. 1 and Davis Cup crown

Nadal was due to start his season at the 2019 Brisbane International, but withdrew shortly before his first match due to an injury. He was seeded second at the 2019 Australian Open, and recorded straight-sets wins against James Duckworth, Matthew Ebden, Alex de Minaur, Tomáš Berdych, first-time quarterfinalist Frances Tiafoe and first-time semifinalist Stefanos Tsitsipas to reach his fifth Australian Open final. This was the first time that Nadal had advanced to an Australian Open final without losing a set; he had also lost only two service games during this run, both in his first-round match against Duckworth. Nadal lost the final in straight sets to Novak Djokovic, winning only eight games for the match and marking Nadal's first straight-sets loss in a Grand Slam final. Nadal next played at the 2019 Mexico Open, where he reached the second round, losing to Nick Kyrgios in three sets despite having three match points in the third set.[186] Nadal withdrew from both Indian Wells and Miami due to a right hip injury.[187]

Nadal began the clay season at the 2019 Monte Carlo Masters, reaching the semifinal, where he was defeated by eventual champion Fabio Fognini in straight sets.[188] He then competed in Barcelona (where he had won a record eleven titles), defeating Leonardo Mayer, David Ferrer and Jan-Lennard Struff, but lost to the eventual champion Dominic Thiem in straight sets. In Madrid, he had a bye in the first round and defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime, Frances Tiafoe and Stan Wawrinka, leading to his third clay-court semifinal of the year. He faced Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinal, where he lost in three sets.[189] He won his first tournament of the year in Rome, with a three-set win over Djokovic in the final.[190] At the 2019 French Open, Nadal defeated Yannick Hanfmann, Yannick Maden, David Goffin, Juan Ignacio Londero, Kei Nishikori and Roger Federer (their first meeting at the tournament since 2011), dropping only one set along the way, to set up his twelfth French Open final. In a rematch of the previous year's final against Thiem, Nadal prevailed in four sets to claim his record-extending twelfth French Open title.[191] In doing so, he broke Margaret Court's all-time record of eleven singles titles won at a single Grand Slam event.[192]

Nadal next played at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships and, like the previous year, reached the semifinals, where he faced Federer at Wimbledon for the first time since the 2008 Wimbledon final, a match regarded by some as the greatest in the history of tennis. Nadal lost the semifinal in four sets.[193] At the Rogers Cup, Nadal was the defending champion and top seed. By defeating Fabio Fognini in the quarterfinals, he took over the record for the highest number of Masters 1000 match wins of any active player, surpassing Roger Federer's previous record of 378 victories.[194] In the semifinals, he received a walkover over Gaël Monfils, and in the final, he yielded just three games to Daniil Medvedev, winning in straight sets. This victory marked the first time he achieved a title defence on a surface other than clay.[195] For the second year in a row, Nadal withdrew from Cincinnati Masters afterwards to focus on his US Open preparations.[196] At the 2019 US Open, Nadal lost only one set (against Marin Čilić) en route to the final, which he won against Daniil Medvedev in five sets. In doing so, Nadal claimed his fourth US Open title and 19th Grand Slam title (placing him only one behind Roger Federer in overall standings), won his first five-set Grand Slam final since the 2009 Australian Open final, and completed his second-best season in terms of Grand Slam singles results.[197] At Paris Masters, Nadal reached semi-final stage of the tournament, but pulled out due to an abdominal injury.[198]

At the 2019 ATP Finals, Nadal played in the Andre Agassi group and defeated Tsitsipas and Medvedev in the round-robin stage, but it was not enough to progress to the semifinals.[199] Despite his elimination, Nadal secured the year-end no. 1 ranking when Djokovic was also eliminated in the round-robin stage. This was Nadal's fifth time as the year-end no. 1 player, drawing level with Jimmy Connors, Federer and Djokovic behind Pete Sampras (six), and in doing so, he broke a number of the records he set in 2017:[200]

  • At the age of 33, Nadal is the oldest person to finish as year-end no. 1 player.
  • Nadal became the first player to hold, lose and regain the year-end no. 1 ranking on four occasions.
  • Nadal became the first player to finish as the year-end no. 1 five times in non-consecutive years.
  • The eleven-year gap between Nadal's first year-end no. 1 season (2008) and his last (2019) is also a record.

At the 2019 Davis Cup Finals, Nadal helped Spain win its sixth Davis Cup title. Nadal won all eight of his matches in singles and doubles, extending his winning streak in Davis Cup singles matches to 29 (29–1 record overall) without dropping a set or losing a game on serve;[201][202][203] he also won the tournament's most valuable player award.[203]

2020: ATP Cup final

Nadal began his 2020 season by playing at the inaugural 2020 ATP Cup and helped Spain reach the final where they lost to Serbia, with Nadal losing to Djokovic in straight sets.[204] Nadal then played at the 2020 Australian Open and won his first three matches in straight sets against Hugo Dellien, Federico Delbonis and Pablo Carreño Busta. In the fourth round, he defeated Nick Kyrgios in four sets and reached the quarterfinals where he lost to Dominic Thiem in four sets.[205] Afterwards, Nadal went on to win his third Mexican Open title, defeating Taylor Fritz in straights sets in the final.[206]

Rafael Nadal Professional tennis career articles: 398