At 36, Rafael Nadal won his fourteenth title at Roland-Garros on Sunday June 5 by dominating the Norwegian Casper Ruud (6-3, 6-3, 6-0). Seventeen years passed between his first and his 22nd Grand Slam title. But do you really know the “Bull of Manacor”? Afraid of the dark, fan of Tiger Woods, featured in a Shakira music video… Here are fourteen things you might not know about the Spaniard.
1He is right-handed on a daily basis
His left arm is feared by all his opponents on the courts. But in everyday life, the Spaniard speaks with his right hand. In his autobiography published in 2012, Nadal explains how he became a left-handed tennis player, around the age of 10: “When I was little, as I lacked strength, I played all the shots with both hands and my uncle said to me: ‘No professional plays like that, we are not going to innovate, you have to change.’ Naturally, the left won.”
2His quirks help him focus
Besides his incredible track record, Nadal, a bit superstitious, is also known for his on-court rituals. Well-aligned bottles, clothing readjustments, service line cleaning… “If I don’t do that with the bottles, I sit down and I can think about other things than the game. When I always do the same things, it means I’m focused in competition mode, willing to think only than in tennis.”
3He is a supporter of Real Madrid
The Mallorcan has never hidden his love for Real Madrid. Invited to the Champions League final at the Stade de France between the Merengues and Liverpool on May 28, the tennis player, honorary member of the club since 2011, explained that he had difficulty arriving in Saint-Denis. “I had to get out of the car on the highway and finish on foot.”
Rafa Nadal: “I’m a huge football fan and Real Madrid is my favorite club. It’s the club I support and love, it’s truly part of my life.” [la leyenda blanca] pic.twitter.com/VlA9tcoIXS
— SB (@Realmadridplace) February 11, 2022
4One of his uncles played for Barca
If the family is a supporter of Real Madrid, it is in the rival club that evolved for a time Miguel Angel Nadal, one of Rafa’s two uncles. The player with 62 caps with the national team played for FC Barcelona from 1991 to 1999.
5 An asteroid in his name
Since 2008, there has been not one, but two Rafael Nadals. The tennis player’s name was given to an asteroid discovered five years earlier by researchers at the Mallorca Astronomical Observatory. Located between Mars and Jupiter, the star measures 4 kilometers in diameter and moves at the speed of 20 kilometers per second.
6He featured in a Shakira music video
In 2010, the Spaniard stepped out of his comfort zone by appearing in the clip of the Colombian singer, Gypsy. The 24-year-old player at the time played boyfriend Shakira, in a clip that had made the buzz.
7He has his statue at Roland-Garros
In June 2021, the organizers of the Parisian Grand Slam had decided to pay tribute to the Mallorcan champion, thirteen times winner Porte d’Auteuil at the time, by inaugurating a statue in his likeness. Designed by the Spanish sculptor Jordi Díez Fernandes, this stainless steel statue measures three meters in height and features the Mallorcan champion performing a forehand, mouth open, feet off the ground.
In honor of the greatest champion of Roland-Garros a href=”https://twitter.com/RafaelNadal?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@RafaelNadal inaugurated this Thursday his statue in the Roland-Garros stadium #Roland Garros
— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) May 27, 2021
8He plays golf with a handicap
Sometimes Rafael Nadal swaps his racquet for a golf club. Accustomed to the greens, he has a handicap of +0.3, a level considered professional.
Rafa Nadal’s golf swing is so tennis-y pic.twitter.com/qGDRcv5VsS
—Zephyr Melton (@zephyrmelton) October 22, 2021
9He is a fan of Tiger Woods
Agile with a golf club in hand, the Majorcan closely follows the performance of American golfer Tiger Woods, his sporting idol. “I’ve always said that I don’t have a role model, but if I had one, I would have to say it’s him, he said in 2019. He is a great inspiration. Everything he has achieved in sport, fighting so hard, he has always been an example. I hope one day we can play golf together.”
10He hesitated between tennis and football
From his 3 to his 13 years, Rafael Nadal played football and tennis, before finally choosing the yellow ball. Ten years of playing the round ball which explains why the man with 22 Grand Slams is so agile on foot on the tennis courts.
Rafael Nadal definitely knows how to do everything with the little yellow ball #HomeOfTennis
— Eurosport France (@Eurosport_FR) May 5, 2021
11His career began in Auray
The Spaniard’s first success came in Morbihan. In 1998, then aged 11, Rafael Nadal won the Auray Open Super 12, an international youth tournament, against Jamie Murray.
12He is achluophobe
Even champions have flaws. Nadal recently opened up about his fear of the dark. “Being alone at home at night makes me very nervous. I can’t sleep in my bed. So I sleep on the sofa, the TV on, he told the Italian show Che Tempo Che Fa in May, at the Rome tournament. I am not very brave in the face of things in life. In tennis, yes, but in everything else, no.”
13He never broke a racket
Nadal is the complete opposite of a John McEnroe or a Marat Safin, known for their fits of anger and their racket throwing. “When I was little, my uncle said to me, ‘If you throw away your racquet, I’ll stop training you.’ He explained to me that I had to treat my racquet with respect. If I miss a shot, it’s my fault and not that of an object.”
14He listens to Julio Iglesias and Bon Jovi
Like the majority of current players, the Spaniard listens to music during warm-up before entering the court. Asked in 2009 about his musical tastes, Nadal replied that if he had to keep only three songs, he would choose back to you by Brian Adams, In these Arms of Bon Jovi and Vuela amigo,vuela alto by Julio Iglesias.