With the US Open almost upon us, I thought it would be fitting to post a tribute to my current favorite tennis player: Rafael Nadal. Pete Sampras will always be my all-time favorite tennis player, but Rafa, as he is affectionately known, tops the list right now.
Rafa bust into the tennis scene in 2005 by winning the French Open in his FO debut. He successfully defended his title this year, defeating Federer, the worlds No. 1 player, along the way. He's the only player that can successfully challenge Federer, and has the only winning record against him. Until yesterday, he was the only guy in 2006 to beat Federer, and he did it five times.
He's been considered a clay-court specialist until he broke through to the Wimbledon final this year, losing to Federer. He hopes to make a big impact at the US Open this year.
The reason I like the guy so much is because of his attitude, passion and energy. As these pictures show, the guy is dialed in to his matches. The picture of him jumping up in the air was taken during his Wimbledon match where he was almost knocked out of the tournament. In men's tennis, you play a best-of-five-sets match. He was down two sets and had to play a tiebreaker in the third set to stay alive. No problem for Rafa; he won the last three sets. And check out his shoes: Vamos Rafa.
That is probably more tennis knowledge than you wanted to know, if you read it at all. But if you get a chance to watch a Nadal match during the US Open (Aug. 28-Sept. 10 on USA and CBS) you won't be disappointed. If you think tennis is boring, Nadal can probably make the match interesting for you, especially if he's showing emotion with his fist pumps and air jumping.