Every sport has its list of legends. In the tennis hall of fame, Rafael Nadal's very own palatial space is prime property. Today, the Spaniard also stepped firmly into history books, becoming the first player ever to win seven French Open Men's Singles titles.
To do that he had to beat World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 in a final spread over two rain-splattered days. And in doing that, he beat the longstanding record of legendary Swede Bjorn Borg, who had won six on Paris' clay.
At 26, the King of Clay boasts an incredible career record of 52 wins and just one loss at Roland Garros. This year, he has won three other clay court titles - Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome.
Nadal commands a huge fan-following and his career only justifies why he is bestowed with titles, laurels and fan adulation. The former World Number 1 has won eleven Grand Slam singles titles. It has been a result of a natural talent for the sport and an unforgiving attitude even against stronger opponents (at the start of his career).
When one starts playing a sport at the age of three, he may or may not be deemed as a prodigy. The skill though was clear in Nadal as he took to the sport with passion. Introduced to tennis by his uncle - Toni Nadal - who himself was a professional tennis player, Nadal made his family's incline towards sports to work in his favour.
The results began pouring in soon for young Rafa. He won an under-12 regional tennis championship when he was eight and followed it up by claiming Spanish and European tennis titles in the following years.
Nadal at age 12 was also playing football but his father, it is believed, asked him to choose between football and tennis. The choice made is now only too well known.
Rafa turned pro at age 15 and made it to the boys' semi-final at Wimbledon a year later.
The biggest achievement in his formative years came a year later when he defeated Roger Federer and became the youngest man to reach the third round of Wimbledon. Glorious achievements began falling into his kit-bag in a rush from here.
The French Open was won for the first time when Nadal was still 19. It was also his first outing at the Roland Garros but it mattered less as he marched towards the title, leaving a trail of a million tennis lovers gaping in utter devotion.
The Spaniard's march towards the Number 1 spot from here has been well documented. There was also a stiff on-court rivalry between him and Federer which set pulses racing each time. Of course, injuries have threatened to ground him but his knee and ankle troubles, in particular, have not been a match for his will to play, compete and win.Quick facts
World ranking: 2
Birthdate: June 3, 1986
Birthplace: Manacor, Mallorca, Spain
Residence: Manacor, Mallorca, Spain
Height: 6'1" (185 cm)
Turned pro: 2001
Coach: Toni Nadal
Career singles titles: 50
Grand Slam singles titles: 11 (Australian Open 2009; French Open 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012; Wimbledon 2008, 2010; US Open 2010)
Career prize money: $49,683,332More About Rafa
Nadal owns an Aston Martin DBS
He has revealed himself to be an agnostic
His autobiography - titled Rafa - was published in August 2011
Has been dating Maria Francisca Perello
Apart from tennis, likes to play football and golf