Rafael Nadal has had a stellar career
Rafael Nadal has had a stellar career, earning his first ATP point more than two decades ago and still going strong at the age of 35. Earlier this year, he won a record 21st Grand Slam singles title by triumphing at the Australian Open. He has won 20 of his 21 matches this year, winning three titles.
The Spaniard debuted in the ATP top 10 in 2005 after winning the Barcelona Open. This came after he clinched his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo.
Nadal arrived at the Conde de Godo that year in inspired form, winning 30 of his 36 matches and racking up titles in Costa do Sauipe and Acapulco before his Monte Carlo triumph. At the Barcelona Open, the then 18-year-old did not drop a set all week, beating compatriot Juan Carlos Ferrero to win the title.
The win made Nadal one of the youngest players to break into the ATP top 10, which he has not exited in 17 years, the longest unbeaten streak. Speaking at a press conference after the accomplishment in 2005, the left-hander said that he felt “just the same” as when he was ranked No. 56 three months prior.
“At the end I’m 18 year old, and I just try to enjoy on the court,” Nadal said. “I don’t feel the media pressure; I feel the same guy as three months ago when I was #56; now I’m #7, and all that changes is a number; the rest is just the same.”
Incidentally, almost two decades later, another Spaniard, Carlos Alcaraz, triumphed at Barcelona to debut in the top 10. Interestingly, it was his fourth win in as many tournament finals and his third this year. That is something none of the Big 3 (Roger Federer (1-3), Nadal (3-1) and Novak Djokovic (3-1)) or any current member of the top 10 have accomplished.
Speaking to the ATP, Alcaraz said he was “happy” to enter the top 10 at the same age (18) as his “idol” Nadal.
“I’ve always been a normal guy. I’m not scared of fame, I’m not going to change the person I am,” Alcaraz said. “I’m happy to know that at 18 years old I’m in the Top 10, and to do it (at) the same age as my idol Rafa is impressive.”
Rafael Nadal’s achievements as a teenager
Rafael Nadal’s 21 Grand Slams
Rafael Nadal is generally regarded as one of the best players in tennis history, winning a record 21st Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open earlier this year.
The 35-year-old, who has been a top-10 player since 2005, produced one of the best-ever years by a teenager in the sport’s history. He won a career-best 11 titles in 2005, including one Roland Garros and four Masters 1000 titles.
Nadal successfully defended his Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome titles the following year before turning 20. A week after his 20th birthday, he successfully defended his Roland Garros title too, beating Federer in the final.