Rafa comes in at #2 in the ATP’s list of players of the decade:
In recent years, Rafael Nadal has emerged as the strongest challenger to Federer’s dominance and has established one of the most gripping rivalries in the history of men’s tennis with the Swiss. The Spaniard, who proudly displays the silhouette of a bull’s horns on his tennis shoes, has been the undoubted King of Clay in the past five years. Of the Spaniard’s 36 tour-level titles, 25 have come on his surface of choice.
The Mallorcan’s clay-court dominance has been at its zenith at Roland Garros, where he first made his debut in 2005. He won his first 31 matches at the clay-court major, capturing four successive titles, before his run came to and end at the hands of Robin Soderling in the fourth round this year. But it is not only on clay that the left-hander has excelled. He became the first Spaniard since Manuel Santana 1966 to win Wimbledon when he dethroned five-time champion Federer in 2008 and won his first hard-court major at the ‘09 Australian Open, once again defeating Federer.
The Manacor native, who has the following of a rock star, became the first Spaniard in the history of the South African Airways ATP Rankings (since 1973) to finish as ATP World Tour Champion in 2008 and has featured in three of his nation’s four Davis Cup triumphs.