'Rafael Nadal has to make this last effort to continue', says top coach

Rafael Nadal is a true legend on and off the court

by Simone Brugnoli
'Rafael Nadal has to make this last effort to continue', says top coach

It can be said that 22-time Major winner Rafael Nadal made an excellent choice when he chose tennis over soccer. With Barcelona player Miguel Ángel Nadal as one uncle and tennis lover Toni Nadal as the other, Nadal had the chance to embrace both sports and showcase his skills on the courts.

At the age of 12, the man from Manacor decided to choose tennis as his main sport, working with Toni and becoming one of the best players of all time. Starting the 2003 season from outside the top-200, the 16-year-old reached three Challenger finals in the first three months before winning the first title at Barletta.

With momentum on his side, Rafa headed into Monte Carlo and qualified for the main draw. The future star knocked out Roland Garros champion Albert Costa en route to the third round, and he reinforced and repeated that streak in Hamburg.

The youngster, suffering from an elbow injury, missed Roland Garros and the events leading up to Wimbledon on grass. Nadal entered his first Major at the All England Club a couple of weeks after his 17th birthday and a year after reaching the junior semifinal.

Nadal beat Mario Ancic 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 after three grueling hours and four minutes. The Spaniard became the third youngest player with a victory in the tennis cathedral after Boris Becker and Mats Wilander. Both players had their chances on the return.

Nadal fended off 11 of 14 while delivering five breaks to move on top for a historic win over a player who defeated Roger Federer in the first round a year earlier. Asked about his uncles, Rafa explained that Miguel Ángel played soccer for Barcelona in the 90s, when the whole family cheered them on.

Still, Nadal admitted they are Real Madrid fans, cheering for his favorite club again after Miguel Angel left Barcelona in 1999 and returned to the local Mallorca club.

Rafa Nadal is in trouble

Rafael Nadal's retirement is not around the corner anytime soon, reckons the Spaniard's uncle Toni.

"In his mind he is not retiring for now. Another thing is what the doctors say or that he has more pain than he touches," he said, as pieced together from various sources. "The moment is still good and if he is fit, he will continue.

It is not about winning this or another tournament but about continuing the fight, since what he has left is to continue doing what he wants to do. He likes it and keep fighting, which is what he has gotten used to from a very young age.

His career, whatever he does, has been a great career," he said. "Now he has to make this last effort to continue, as he has been doing for a long time."

Rafael Nadal