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Rafael Nadal – A tale of Blood, Sweat and Tears

World No 5 Rafael Nadal clinched his 14th French Open title of his career which was also his record-extending 22nd Grand Slam trophy after beating Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in the final of the tournament, on Sunday.

Shashwat Nishant | New Delhi |

The story of the little boy who was raised by a close-knit clan sharing a five-story apartment block in Manacor, on the island of Mallorca, could be the story of any joint family in India.

However, the Nadal family was not just another family. Sport was running up and down their veins from the very start. Miguel Angel, Rafael’s uncle, used to be a football player for FC Barcelona. Antonio “Toni,” the other uncle, was a top amateur tennis player who competed in the Spanish national championships before becoming a coach at the Manacor Tennis Club. Sebastian, his father, was a prosperous businessman.

World No 5 Rafael Nadal clinched his 14th French Open title of his career which was also his record-extending 22nd Grand Slam trophy after beating Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-3, 6-0 in the final of the tournament, on Sunday.

By earning a 22nd Grand Slam crown, the Spaniard has moved further clear of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the Grand Slam race, with the Serbian and Swiss tied on 20 major titles. However, everyone knows that this mind blowing stat will most probably be overtaken in the near future by the likes of one of his close competitors, the Serbian maestro Novak Djokovic who currently sits on 20 titles. 

It is the first time Nadal has won the Australian Open and Roland Garros trophies in the same season and he is now level with countryman Carlos Alcaraz on a Tour-leading four titles in 2022 after improving to 112-3 at the clay-court major.

Following his triumph over the Norwegian, the Spaniard has become the third player to earn four Top 10 wins at a Grand Slam since the ATP Rankings started in 1973. Mats Wilander at Roland Garros in 1982 and Roger Federer at the Australian Open in 2017 also achieved the feat. 

The need to embrace and enjoy suffering has been the defining theme of Nadal’s life philosophy. He has a deeply internalized understanding of life’s ups and downs, having come back from career-threatening injuries, won and lost some of the most exhausting matches in tennis history, and played in constant physical pain including his current performance at the just-concluded French Open where he was repeatedly informed that the degenerative deformity in his left foot could end his career. His legendary self-control in the face of adversity on the court, combined with an equally legendary set of compulsive on-court tics and routines, has helped him manage tennis’ defining challenge –  “resolving emergencies one after the other”.

This never-ending motivation to continue to work hard and be the best version of himself whenever he steps out on the court is the reason why sporting icons from all over the world have shown their admiration for him throughout his illustrious career.