The world no. 2 and the 17-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal has been awarded the Premio Rey Felipe honor for the third time in his career, receiving the award on January 10 after a great 2017 season he had enjoyed. Rafa won this ward in 2006 and 2008 as well and he secured this one following his outstanding results from two seasons ago, winning six ATP titles and finishing as the year-end number 1 player for the fourth time. Acknowledged as one of the greatest Spanish athletes of all time, Nadal bounced back after a few tough seasons plagued with injuries, losing in the final of the Australian Open to Roger Federer and again in Acapulco and Miami, gaining the momentum before the clay swing where he conquered Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid and Roland Garros (without losing a set), entering the top-two for the first time since October 2014! The results at Wimbledon, Montreal and Cincinnati were not that good but Rafa returned to his best at the US Open, losing just three sets in seven matches for his 16th Grand Slam crown, continuing in the same style in Beijing and also in Shanghai where he lost in the final to Roger Federer.
Securing the year-end no. 1 spot for the first time in four seasons, Nadal had to withdraw from Paris and also from the ATP Finals but despite that he had a very successful season that secured the best Spanish athlete of the year award for the first time in a decade.
The award was established back in 1982 and there are three tennis players who have managed to get their name on the list, Alex Corretja in 1998, Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2003 and Rafael Nadal on three occasions.