Ever since I was younger, the sport of tennis fascinated me. Whether it was because my mom grew up playing it and put me through it, or because it was constantly on TV, I just remember thinking how incredible the sport was. There was one name that I constantly saw popping up on my screen: Rafael Nadal, the supposed greatest player on earth. To this day I still do personally believe that he is the best tennis player in history, and he holds some of the more impressive statistics to support this statement.
Nadal became a professional tennis player at only the age of 15, back in 2001. Shortly into his career, he became one of the youngest people in the world to win an Associations of Tennis Professionals(ATP) match, and this was before he had even reached the age of 16. However, this proved to be only the beginning of his career; before Nadal had reached the age of 18 he was already considered to be within the top-50 professional tennis players around the globe, ranking among people twice his age.
As he became an even more dominant player and his name became more popular among the masses, Nadal began to create nemesis in the tennis world. He started to face-off against many of the players who were also in the running to be the greatest player of all time—Djokovic and Federer being two of those opponents. Federer, however, soon became known as his greatest competition. Over the course of the 40 times Federer and Nadal met throughout their careers, Nadal emerged victorious in 24 of them.
With a copious amount of records to back up Nadal and his successes, there are a few victories that prove to be the most impressive. To this day he stands as the only player to ever win 12 French Opens. This is also the record held by any player to ever win this many titles at one Grand Slam Tournament, making him the overall champion of the annual French Open. Nadal also holds the title for most grand glams won in a row, with an impressive ten victories between the years 2005-2014. His career becomes even more impressive given that he is also the player to hold consecutive gold medals, and win these medals on all the surfaces of a tennis court: clay, grass, and hard courts. You may not believe that the surfaces matter; however, with Nadal being the most comfortable on clay courts, the change in the surface can alter one’s ability to perform their best.
After suffering several ankle injuries throughout the entirety of his career, Nadal hit a bit of a rough patch in his health towards the end of his career. During the years 2014-2017, he was not able to compete as much, and there was a lull in his career; however, in 2019 he once again began to secure more victories, and add more power to his name. During the last few years of his career, he won two of the most pristine titles in tennis: the Davis Cup Crown, and the earning of the No. 1 ranking in professional tennis. This gave him the title of the greatest tennis player in the world, and he had many successes to prove him worthy of this ranking. After securing these titles, Nadal decided to put his 20-year long career to rest in May of 2020 upsetting many tennis fans around the world who had grown up watching him dominate. With his retirement, he officially left the world of tennis. With all of this in consideration, Nadal left the sport he loved being the greatest of all time.