It’s safe to say that 22-time major winner Rafael Nadal made a good choice when he chose soccer over tennis. With Barcelona player Miguel Angel Nadal as one uncle and tennis aficionado Toni Nadal as the other, Nadal has had the opportunity to embrace both sports and showcase his skills on the green and red courts.
At the age of 12, the native of Manacor decided to choose tennis as his main sport, working with Tony and becoming one of the greatest players of all time. In the year Starting the 2003 season outside the top-200, the 16-year-old reached three challenging finals in the first three months before winning his first title at Barletta.
It is remembered that Rafa qualified for the main draw by heading to Monte Carlo. The up-and-coming star gathered momentum as he swept Roland Garros champion Albert Costa into the third round and repeated that run in Hamburg.
Battling an elbow injury, the youngster missed Roland Garros and pre-Wimbledon events on grass. A few weeks after his 17th birthday and a year after reaching the junior semifinals, Nadal played his first major.
Nadal defeated Mario Acich 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 after three hours and four minutes.
Rafael Nadal talks about his favorite sports at Wimbledon in 2003.
The Spaniard became the third youngest player to win at the Tennis Cathedral after Boris Becker and Mats Wilander.
Both players had chances in the return game. Nadal has now won 11 of 14 matches with five breaks to beat the man who beat Roger Federer in the first round a year ago.
When asked about his uncles, Rafa explained that when Miguel Angel played football for Barcelona in the 90s, the whole family cheered him on. Still, Nadal admits to being Real Madrid fans, Miguel Angel once again cheered for his favorite club when he returned to his local club in Mallorca in 1999 after leaving Barcelona.
“I chose tennis at the age of 12 over football because I played better. My family was happy when my uncle played for Barcelona. Before that, we all supported Real Madrid. Once my uncle left Barcelona, we were Real Madrid fans again,” said Rafael Nadal.