All EOS blogs All Spain blogs  Start your own blog Start your own blog 

Sporty Sam

I love most sports, but particularly rugby union, rugby league, football, cricket, tennis, athletics, boxing, golf, jai alai, Formula 1 and The Olympic Games. I hate American football and wrestling and will not watch it.
This blog is about the sports I like.

Rafael Nadal
Monday, April 8, 2024

When a young Rafael Nadal burst onto the tennis scene in the early 2000s, he had an instant impact. He was different; he dressed like a pirate, he was surly and he played in a different way. He was good. And he started beating all the great players. I didn’t like him at all, back then.


Now 20 years on, it’s a different story.


The Early Days

Rafael Nadal, a Spanish tennis player, was born in Manacor, Mallorca in 1986. Despite being a right-hander, his uncle and coach Toni Nadal encouraged him to play left-handed, which the latter argued would give him an advantage against other players, most of whom were right-handed.

Reaching the world No. 2 ranking and winning 16 titles before turning 20, including his first French Open and six Masters events, Nadal became the world No. 1 for the first time in 2008 after defeating Roger Federer (Switzerland) in a historic Wimbledon Final, his first major victory not on clay.

He followed up his win with an Olympic singles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. After defeating Novak Djokovic (Serbia) in the 2010 US Open final, the then-24-year-old Nadal became the youngest man in the Open Era to achieve the Career Grand Slam, and the first man to win majors on three different surfaces (hard, grass and clay) in the same year, known as a Surface Slam.



Nadal has won the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award five times and was the Laureus World Sportsman of the Year in 2011 and 2021. 

Time magazine named Nadal one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2022.

He is a recipient of the Grand Cross of Royal Order of Sports Merit, Grand Cross of Order of the Second of May, the Grand Cross of Naval Merit and the Medal of the City of Paris.

Representing Spain, he has won two Olympic gold medals, and led the nation to four Davis Cup titles.

Nadal has also opened a tennis academy in Mallorca, and is an active philanthropist.


Playing style

“It is important to have true inner humility, not false humility, accepting that it's not always good, bad moments are better tolerated. People sometimes exaggerate this business of humility. It's simply a question of knowing who you are, where you are, and that the world will continue exactly as it is without you.”

Nadal, speaking to the press at the 2008 US Open.


As a left-handed player, one of Nadal's main strengths has been his forehand, which he hits with a high degree of topspin. He also regularly places among the Tour leaders in percentage of return games, return points, and break points won.

Nadal generally plays an aggressive, behind-the-baseline game founded on heavy topspin groundstrokes, consistency, speedy footwork and tenacious court coverage, thus making him an aggressive counterpuncher. 

Known for his athleticism and speed around the court, Nadal is an excellent defender who hits well on the run, constructing winning plays from seemingly defensive positions. He also plays very fine dropshots, which work especially well because his heavy topspin often forces opponents to the back of the court.

Nadal employs a semi-western grip forehand, often with a "lasso-whip" follow-through, where his left arm hits through the ball and finishes above his left shoulder – as opposed to a more traditional finish across the body or around his opposite shoulder. Nadal's forehand groundstroke form allows him to hit shots with heavy topspin – more so than many of his contemporaries.

San Francisco tennis researcher John Yandell used a high-speed video camera and special software to count the average number of revolutions of a tennis ball hit full force by Nadal.



Yandell concluded:

“The first guys we did were (Pete) Sampras and (Andre) Agassi. They were hitting forehands that in general were spinning about 1,800 to 1,900 revolutions per minute. Federer is hitting with an amazing amount of spin, too, right? 2,700 revolutions per minute. Well, we measured one forehand Nadal hit at 4,900. His average was 3,200.”


Going forward

Nadal has suffered periods of injury throughout his career, largely caused by the way he plays, which takes a huge toll on his body.

He is currently injured, in early April 2024. He has withdrawn from several tournaments including the Australian Open and the Monte-Carlo Masters, in the hope that he can get fit for the three remaining Grand Slams, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

Whether he gets to play those tournaments or not, 2024 is likely to be his final year of competion.



“Nadal is, without a doubt, the best athlete in the history of Spain. Spain has to pay him a tribute for many, many years. Nadal is the king of Roland Garros and of world tennis. He has achieved a record that is very difficult to beat.”

— King Felipe VI, on Nadal's legacy after he won his 22nd Grand Slam at the French Open in 2022.


Rafa Nadal has won the second-most major men’s singles titles in tennis history (22) behind Djokovich on 24 and ahead of Federer on 20. He has also won the second-most Big titles (59). He appeared in the Top 10 of the ATP rankings consecutively from April 2005 to March 2023 – a record spanning 912 weeks.

He stands alone in the Open Era as the player with the most clay court titles (63), consisting of an all-time record 14 French Open titles, 12 Barcelona Open titles, 11 Monte-Carlo Masters titles, and 10 Italian Open titles.

His 14 French Open titles are a record at any single tournament, and he holds the record for the longest single-surface winning streak in matches (81 on clay) and in sets (50 on clay) in the history of the Open Era.

Nadal's dominance on clay is reflected by his honorific title as the "King of Clay", and he is widely regarded as the greatest clay-court player in history. Nadal is considered by many to be the greatest player in tennis history because of his record and evolution into an all-court champion.

Nadal played an instrumental role in taking Spain to four Davis Cup crowns, and is the winner of two Olympic gold medals.

He is one of two men, along with Agassi, to win the Olympic gold medal as well as the four majors in singles in his career, a feat known as a Career Grand Slam.

He is the only male player in history to complete the Career Grand Slam and win an Olympic gold medal in both singles and doubles. 

He is one of four men in history, along with Roy Emerson (Australia), Rod Laver (Australia) and Novak Djokovic, to complete the double Career Grand Slam in singles.



Rafa, you have had a fantastic career. When you first appeared I didn't like you, but that has changed. Now I think you are one of the best things that happened to lawn tennis. And you are a true gentleman. Enjoy your final season and have a great life. Thank you.





© Sporty Sam




El Confidencial



Paul Whitelock






Agassi, Alamy, Australian Open, Djokovich, El Confidencial, emprendedores, Federer, French Open, Grand Slam, Mallorca, Manacor, Marca, Nadal, Olympic, Paul Whitelock, Rafael Nadal, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, SportsKeeda, Sporty Sam, Toni Nadal, US Open, Wikipedia, Wimbledon, YouTube



Like 0        Published at 8:48 AM   Comments (0)

The FIFA World Cup
Monday, April 1, 2024

The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football competition between the senior men’s national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The tournament has been held every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, with the exception of 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War.

The trophy has been won by eight national teams. Brazil, with five wins, are the only team to have played in every tournament. The other World Cup winners are Germany/West Germany and Italy, with four titles each; Argentina, with three titles; France and Uruguay, each with two titles; and England and Spain, with one title each.


My personal experience

The first World Cup I remember watching was in 1966, when I was 16. England won that year, the one and only time they have managed it.

I watched it in 1970, when it was held in Mexico. England were hot favourites, but went out controversially against Germany after Sir Alf Ramsay, the England manager, made some fateful substitutions.

In 1974 I was doing exams for my PGCE so couldn’t watch it much.

1978, I can’t remember. The following World Cups in 1982, 1986, 1990, and 1994 are also a blur.

In 1998 I was at a conference in Liverpool, but managed to find a pub showing the key match involving England and Argentina, when David Beckham was sent off.

In 2002 the joint hosts were South Korea and Japan, with Brazil emerging as winners.

2006, in Germany, is a mystery. Italy won.

In 2010, retired and living in Spain, I was interested again. Shame about the appalling decision of the referee in disallowing Frank Lampard’s "goal" against old enemy Germany, who went on to win the game. That tournament was in South Africa and was won by Spain.

I also followed the 2014 tournament closely. My German wife Rita, who claims to hate all sport, watched enthusiastically as Germany thrashed hosts Brazil 7-1 and went on to win the final 1-0 against Argentina.

In 2018 the tournament was held in Russia. England flattered to deceive, yet got to the semi-final, before falling to Croatia, who lost to France in the final.

The 2022 World Cup was postponed to 2023, because of the Covid pandemic. The tournament was held controversially in Dakar. Argentina beat France in the final.

The next World Cup finals will be held in the United States, Canada and Mexico, marking the first time a World Cup has been shared by three host nations. The 2026 tournament will be the biggest World Cup ever held, with 48 teams playing 104 matches. Sixty matches will take place in the USA, including all matches from the quarter-finals onward, while Canada and Mexico will host 10 games each.


2014 FIFA World Cup – the best ever?

Fans and pundits alike consider this edition of the World Cup to be one of the best ever held.

The  2014 tournament was the 20th FIFA World Cup. It took place in Brazil from 12 June to 13 July 2014, after the country was awarded the hosting rights in 2007. It was the second time that Brazil had staged the competition, the first being in 1950 (I missed that one, as I was less than four weeks old!), and the fifth time that it was held in South America.

31 national teams advanced through qualification to join the host nation in the final tournament. A total of 64 matches were played in 12 venues in cities across Brazil.

For the first time at a World Cup finals, match officials used goal-line technology, as well as vanishing spray for free kicks. The country welcomed 1 million visitors from 202 countries.

Spain, the defending champions, were eliminated at the group stage, along with England and Italy. Uruguay were eliminated in the round of 16, and France exited in the quarter-finals. Host nation Brazil were thrashed by Germany 7–1 in the semi-finals and eventually finished in fourth place.

In the 2014 final, Germany defeated Argentina 1–0 after extra time to win the tournament and secure the country's fourth world title, the first after German reunification in 1990.

Germany became the first European team to win a World Cup staged in the Americas, and this result marked the third consecutive title won by a European team, after Italy in 2006 and Spain in 2010.


Bits and pieces


The World Cup attracts major sponsors such as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Adidas. For these companies and many more, being a sponsor strongly impacts their global brands. Host countries typically experience a multimillion-dollar revenue increase from the month-long event.

The governing body of the sport, FIFA, generated $4.8 billion in revenue from the 2014 tournament, and $6.1 billion from the 2018 tournament.


Match balls, mascots, logos and songs

Match balls have been manufactured by Adidas since the 1970 World Cup.

Each FIFA World Cup since 1966 has had its own mascot or logo. World Cup Willie, the mascot for the 1966 competition, was the first. 







Each tournament also has an official World Cup song, which has been performed by artists ranging from Shakira to Will Smith.

Other songs, such as “Nessun Dorma”, performed by The Three Tenors at four World Cup concerts, have also become identified with the tournament.

The Three Tenors are Spaniards Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras together with Italian Luciano Pavarotti, whose nickname was "Big Lucy".




Coming World Cups

In 2026, the finals will be held in Canada, USA and Mexico.

In 2030 it’s the turn of Morocco, Portugal and Spain and .....

in 2034 it will be Saudi Arabia.


I wonder if I’ll still be around for all of them …..?


© Sporty Sam




Paul Whitelock



The Independent





1966, 1970 World Cup, 2014 FIFA World Cup, 2022 World Cup, Adidas, Argentina, "Big Lucy", Brazil, England, Fédération Internationale de Football Association, FIFA World Cup, France, German reunification, Germany, goal-line technology, Independent, Italy, logos, mascots, Match balls, “Nessun Dorma”, official World Cup song, Pinterest, Second World War, Shakira, songs, Spain, Sponsorship, Sportsnet, Sporty Sam, South America, The Three Tenors, Uruguay, vanishing spray, Wikipedia, Will Smith, World Cup, World Cup Willie, YouTube


Like 0        Published at 9:53 AM   Comments (0)

Spam post or Abuse? Please let us know

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse you are agreeing to our use of cookies. More information here. x