Rafael Nadal from start to today. In this new column, we will explore the Spaniard's career, focusing our analysis in several stages not only on his victories and his records, but also on anecdotes, events that happened behind the scenes, and curiosities.
In short, the genesis of a champion. After a great 2010, the year in which Nadal also appeared in the Shakira's Gypsy video, 2011 and 2012 were two years in which Rafa was affected by some injuries that partly conditioned these two seasons.
Two years, however, during which he was able to always compete at the highest level on his beloved clay-season. In 2011 he won the Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, Barcelona and the Roland Garros in the final against Roger Federer. However, that season was the beginning of a new great rivalry: that between Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Until 2010 Djokovic won seven matches on 23 against the Spaniard. In 2011 he defeated Rafa in the finals of Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome, Wimbledon and the US Open. Total domination. Domain confirmed also in the final of the Australian Open 2012.
"In Indian Wells, I started too badly and I started to be uncertain in the baseline exchanges, while in Miami I had regained confidence mainly because I fought until the end. In New York, I think I suffered from cramp problems.
I had since the match with Nalbandian, and this has made me very discontinuous, especially in the final. I have to go back to playing aggressively and in many games, without the anxiety of injuries or risks: in that way, I think I can get to the bottom everywhere," said Nadal in a 2011 year-end interview.
Nadal reversed the trend by beating his rival in Monte-Carlo, Rome and in the Roland Garros final. In the middle, he also won Barcelona. After a disappointing Wimbledon (Federer won that edition), Rafael ended his season due to a knee injury.
2013 was the year of records. An almost undisputed domain: Nadal won 10 titles, including Indian Wells, Madrid, Rome, the eighth French Open (beating Djokovic in an epic semi-final), Rogers Cup, Cincinnati and the US Open (still against Djokovic).
“2013 has been very exciting for me. I was coming from a long injury, for example, I was not sure about participating in Indian Wells due to the condition of my knee, but then I made the right choice at the last moment!" And it wasn't over yet.