Rafael Nadal – End of an Era?
By Lexi Zahrn – Staff Writer
With a swing that can leave any opponent wondering where the ball has gone, and a game so aggressive that it can drain every ounce of energy from the court, Rafael Nadal is one of tennis’s most physical players. He is ranked at number two worldwide, and he not only plays the beautiful game of tennis, he puts his entire body into it.
Senior Varsity Boys Tennis player Akshay Krishnamani agrees that, “Rafael Nadal, well, he’s a very good player. He has an extremely physical game so sometimes you wonder how long he can stay at it.” Many of Nadal’s fans share Krishnamani’s concerns about the future of the tennis star’s career.
The Manacour, Mallorca, Spain native was born Rafael “Rafa” Nadal Parera to parents Sebastian and Ana Maria on June 3, 1986. His uncle Toni Nadal, popularly known as ‘Uncle Toni,’ was a former professional tennis player, and he noticed that from a young age Rafa had a natural talent with a tennis racquet. He began training him, an arrangement that would last for years to come, and by age eight Rafa had won a regional tennis championship for children ages twelve and under. This win prompted Uncle Toni to begin rigorously training his nephew, urging him to play left-handed though he wrote with his right hand. The tactic would allow him an advantage in the predominately right-handed world of professional tennis.
In 2002 Nadal turned pro at age fifteen, and by age eighteen, after beating the amazing Andy Murray and winning in straight sets to tennis favorite Roger Federer, he was ranked as the fifty-first best player in the world. Six years later in 2010 Rafa was at the top of his game. He won several ‘grand slams’ that year, which included The French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. He also beat Roger Federer out of the number one ranking on June 7, 2010 after winning his fifth French Open title.Unfortunately Rafa was only able to hold onto his number one title until November 14, 2011 when he lost the top spot to Serbian Novak Djokovic.
He has since then been suffering through several knee and foot injuries due to the aggressive, full-body nature of his playing style. With only one grand slam win at the French Open in 2011, it was obvious that Rafa was not up to his usual snuff. He lost to Djokovic in the recent Australian Open Finals after a five hour and fifty-three minute match, the longest final in Australian Open history. Krishnamani states, “Djokovic is a just on a really great streak right now, but that can’t last forver. [Nadal] isn’t done, true he had lost the past seven times [against Djokovic] vyr ge was close in the Australian Open Final, so I think it’s a matter of gaining self-confidence and building on that.” These wise words are exactly was Rafa needs. If he keeps playing with injured limbs as hard as he does, his body will not be able to handle the stress. The only thing that fans can do to help him out is to watch and to wait. Fans want Nadal to reclaim his spot from Djokovic, but only time will tell.