Rafael “Rafa” Nadal Parera turns 28 years old today. And in those 28 years, he’s already done plenty.
Nadal is famous for his impressive statistics: 63 career singles titles, 13 Grand Slam titles, 1 Olympic Gold Medal, and a reputation for clay dominance.
But how much do we really know about the King of Clay?
Here are 5 things you may not know about Rafa Nadal.
1) The Rafa Nadal Foundation
The foundation began in November 2007, with the goal being assistance for socially discriminated children and teenagers who run the risk of exclusion by society. It permits the offer of a better lifestyle to young persons all over the world, to whom sport opens a new door towards hope. Most recently, the Rafa Nadal Foundation teamed up with the Vincente Ferrer Foundation in order to build a school and a three court tennis facility in Anantapur, India.
Also known as Spain’s Raging Bull, Nadal is the first Spaniard to hold a No. 1 ranking. Additionally, Rafa is the first lefty to be No. 1 since McEnroe in 1984.
3) Truly a star
His winning ways solidified Nadal a piece of the sky – or more specifically an asteroid. 128036 Rafaelnadal is a main belt asteroid that was discovered in his hometown in 2003, at the Observatorio Astronómico de Mallorca.
4) Teenage Talent
When he was just 3 years old, Nadal’s uncle, Toni Nadal, taught him how to play tennis. At the age of 8, Nadal won an under-12 regional championship, and 4 years later he won the Spanish and European titles in his age group. Then, at the age of 15, Nadal started playing on the junior circuit and turned pro shortly thereafter.
5) French Open Favorite
The 8-time French Open champion is currently pursuing his ninth title in Paris, France this week. Last year, upon defeating Kei Nishikori, officials at Roland Garros presented him with a larger-than-life birthday cake, topped with golden tennis balls and racquets. Not only did Rafa receive a cake during quarterfinals last year, but he has been receiving birthday treats since the 2006 French Open (except for 2009, when he was upset by Robin Soderling).
All in all, he is one skilled Spaniard. Happy Birthday, Rafa!