In 2005, 19-year-old Rafael Nadal became the best teenager since the days of Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Boris Becker, and the second strongest link on the Tour behind Roger Federer. Nadal followed Federer to 11 ATP titles that year, including Roland Garros and four Masters 1000 crowns.
The Spaniard earned enough points to finish the season well ahead of Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt and others, beginning the ultimate search for the no. 1. Nadal worked hard to improve his grass game in the next two seasons, narrowing the gap with the Swiss, which was mostly between 2004 and 2007.
After four brilliant years that brought him all kinds of impressive records, Roger began to slowed down a bit in 2008 and had to step down from the ATP throne on August 18 when Rafa passed it and conquered the tennis world at 22.
The Spaniard had to wait until the clay court season to claim the first title that year after losing in the final in Chennai and Miami and the semifinal at the Australian Open and Indian Wells. As usual, no one was there to stop him at Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Hamburg and Roland Garros, securing the fourth consecutive title in Paris and increasing the pressure on Roger.
Nadal's grass game had already been at a very high level after two Wimbledon finals in previous years. He took one more step on the faster surface in 2008 to defeat Novak Djokovic at Queen's and Roger Federer in that memorable Wimbledon final to be within reach of that No.
Rafael Nadal flew back to Mallorca earlier this week
Rafael Nadal, who is currently dealing with a foot injury, is on the entry list for the 2021 Balearic Golf Championship for Mid-Amateurs. The golf tournament is scheduled to run from 21-22 August in Mallorca, which is just one week before the start of the US Open.
As it turned out, Nadal pulled out of the 2020 US Open at the last moment, citing a variety of reasons. He finds himself in a similar situation this year, with his match fitness not up to scratch and international travel still being a headache.
There has been a fair bit of speculation that the 35-year-old will skip the US Open this year too. But until there is official confirmation of that, it would have to be assumed he will play. That said, Nadal's decision to play a golf tournament this week suggests that he's not in any physical discomfort right now.