Rafael Nadal: The Making of a Champion, Part 1

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Rafael Nadal: The Making of a Champion, Part 1
Julian Finney/Getty Images
Rafael Nadal bites into the Wimbledon trophy

The "King of Clay" Rafael Nadal was born 3 June 1986 in Manacor, on the Spanish Island of Mallorca.

Rafa’s father Sebastian is a businessman, and his mother Ana Maria Parera once owned a perfume shop, but gave it up to raise Rafa and his younger sister Maria Isabel.

Nadal’s grandfather, also called Rafael, was a musician and is a retired director of the town orchestra.


Rafa’s uncle and coach Toni, was born 17 February 1960 in Manacor. As a child he swam and excelled at soccer and table tennis, at which he was junior champion of the Balearic Islands. Age 12, he attended the Masters tournament in Barcelona where he watched Ilie Nastase, who became his idol.

Age 14 he began playing tennis seriously and as a senior was ranked in the Top-30 players in Spain. At his father’s request he studied history at university in Barcelona, but dropped out due to his lack of interest. Having qualified as a tennis coach he returned to Mallorca and began teaching.

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