So, when we last celebrated Rafa’s birthday, he was on the verge of equalling Bjorn Borg’s record of 6 Roland Garros titles. A lot has happened since then; let’s take a look at all Rafa’s accomplished in these twelve months. It truly boggles the mind.
Thanks for sharing another wonderful year of your life with us, Rafa. (Also, thanks to Benito for tweeting us a photo of Rafa’s midnight birthday cake and Genny_SS/SpanishRN fan for sending in some quotes and records.)
Won his 6th Roland Garros title June
“I said two days ago today I am not playing enough good to win Roland Garros. We will see in two days.” - Rafa after his quarterfinal match.
“You know, a lot of things changed. What never changed is the illusion to keep playing tennis, the illusion to keep doing well the things, and the illusion to be in a good position of the ranking and play these kind of matches like today, or the kind of match that I gonna play on Sunday. So that’s never change.” - when asked how he looks back on his career so far.
“But what I said one week ago is I am going to put everything to try to change the situation, to try to play better, and that’s what I did.” - in his post-final presser
“Well, the real Rafa is both the Rafa who wins and the Rafa who plays well and the Rafa who suffers and doesn’t play that well.” - in his post-final presser
“So, no, I am happy. All the victories makes me happy, but not the victory is what makes me happy. What makes me happy is what I had to do before to have a victory like this.
So a lot of hours of practice, a lot of moments with high intensity, with positive attitude. When things are not going well, keep progressing with the same attitude. That’s what makes me happy; that’s what makes me feel very satisfied with myself.” - in his post-final presser
“This was the tournament where we finally found out what Rafael Nadal needs: He needs to suffer.” - Steve Tignor
Reached the quarterfinals of Queens June
“I love being here and the sensation to play on grass. Some people say I should not be here playing but I think this is the best. I will rest after Queen’s a bit and then get ready for Wimbledon, but it is important to be here for many reasons. LOVE TO BE HERE!” - in his blog for The Telegraph
Reached the final in Wimbledon July
“Well, I did very well the first six months. I lost a few finals, but I was in all the finals. I won three, and I won Roland Garros a few weeks ago. Was a very important title for me. And I’m here. Forget about the past.” - in his pre-tournament presser
“Well, fantastic. Seriously, I never played in a court like this. Was a big emotion be the first player to play in this fabulous court. So seriously was a very, very exciting feeling.” - on playing first as defending champion
“I AM SCARED OF THEM!!!! Not too much to be honest!” - when asked in his blog if he likes horror movies
“If you lead a normal life and just go along normally, fewer people bother you. But if you go out with security and things like that, everybody knows that something is happening there. You live normally, it’s OK. I’ve been to the supermarket two or three times. Otherwise my girlfriend or my Mum do the shopping.” - in an interview with The Telegraph
“The game is easy. The game is not that difficult. So think about a lot of things will be a mistake, in my opinion.” - in his post-final presser
“I am obviously sad for Sunday’s result but that’s life. Sometimes you win and in tennis most of the times you lose.” - in his post-final blog
Joins Twitter August
Lost in the second round at the Rogers Cup August
Armani campaign debuts August
Reached the quarterfinals of the Cincinnati Masters August
“Probably this year I am not arriving with the best feelings because I wasn’t able to practice a lot at home. During all the summer I had the problem on the foot. I just practiced three days before came to Montreal.” - in his pre-tournament presser
“I am worried — when I won Roland Garros, I am worried about the first round of Queen’s. For sure I’m worried about the first round here. I worry about every match on my year. That’s the true, no? Every match is important.” - in his pre-tournament presser
Autobiography is released August
Reached the final of the US Open September
“When he senses a weakness in his opponent, however small, he competes with an unflagging optimism, an almost limitless self-belief.” - Geoff MacDonald
“I fighted until the last point. I tried my best in every moment. I am happy with a lot of things, much happier than the previous matches against him. In another things I’m not that happy.” - in his post-final presser
“I don’t feel any obligation to win the tournament. That’s the true, no? I am not that one that feels that the final is a bad result. I don’t consider myself that good, you know.” - in his post-final presser
Won both of his matches in the Davis Cup semifinals September
“If Rafa were to play the four of us today, he would probably defeat us all” - Julien Benneteau
“It looks like I’m making errors but he’s the one pushing you to make those. He places shots in the court like no one else, they spin differently with each one. It’s really hard to return his shot. When I watch him play at Roland Garros I would scream at the TV ‘How could he miss?’ but now I understand.” - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Reached the final at the Japan Open October
Played in the Pro-Am del Castelló Masters 2011 golf tournament. October
Reached the round of 16 at the Shanghai Masters October
“Winning or losing depends on very, very, very small things.” - in his pre-tournament presser
“For me today is disappointing day. I felt that I did everything right. I was in the right line since the week before the US Open. I think I was doing everything right, practicing with good motivation, practicing well in general.” - in the presser after his loss
Withdraws from the Paris Masters October
Fundación Rafa Nadal is announced as a recipient of an ATP Aces grant for 2011 November
Receives the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award November
Did not make it past the round robin page of the World Tour Finals November
“Seriously I can talk one hour for that. Is because of lot of things. Because probably I was little bit less passion for the game probably because I was a little bit more tired than usual.” - when asked why he wasn’t playing as well as he would like to be
“This end of the year wasn’t easy for me. That’s hard to accept. But at the same time that’s give me little bit more of illusion and little bit more goal for the beginning of 2012. That’s what I going to try.” - in his last WFT presser
“My illusion is there. My motivation I hope the same. I will do it. If not enough, is not going to be enough. But I will be satisfied with myself. See you next year.” - in his last WFT presser
Juntos por la Integración event in Barcelona November
Won both of his singles matches to help Spain win the Davis Cup December
“Yeah, it was an emotional day for us. Well, for me especially, no? For us, win the Davis Cup for the fourth time is something— well, for the fifth for our country— is something unbelievable, really special. The atmosphere makes the event even more special.” - in a presser after the win
Finished the year as the #2 ranked player December
Made it to the semifinals of the Abu Dhabi exhibition January
Reached the semifinals in Doha January
Reached the finals at the Australian Open where he played an epic match January
“The cruelest thing about this glutted golden age of men’s tennis is that it keeps producing astonishing matches, matches that actually expand your idea of what sport can be, and someone has to lose all of them.” - by Brian Phillips
“When Nadal falls behind, he turns the match into life and death. He gets mad. He hesitates less. He hits the ball harder. He doesn’t look sad or scared. He looks defiant, and he plays like he’s possessed.” - by Brian Phillips
“I felt bad for Rafa as he shook hands with Djokovic. I wondered how he would get that missed pass out of his mind. I wondered if he would break down in tears on the trophy stand.
We got none of that. What we got instead were words that spoke to why you play the sport in the first place—for matches like this, even when you lose them. In my favorite moment of the evening, Rafa raised and shook his second-place plate with a sad pride.
‘When you are with passion for the game,’ Nadal said, ‘when you are ready to compete, you are able to suffer and enjoy suffering, no?’” - Steve Tignor
“Important thing for me, during all 2011 I didn’t play much like this. I’m happy I am in the real right way. ” - in his post-final presser
Appeared in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition February
Reached the semifinals in Indian Wells March
Won the doubles title in Indian Wells March
“But if I have to say means more to me to win 2005 than 2011? 2005 was the first one. That’s always special.
But my answer will be not, because when you have years on the tour, when you have troubles, when you have injuries, when you have, you know, tough losses, hard times, good times, you really know how tough is win another time, how tough is win a tournament.
And when I won in 2010 Roland Garros, when I won in 2011 Roland Garros, the emotions are very high, because you really don’t know if you will able to win another time never.” - when talking about what Roland Garros means to him
“The thing is what the people consider a good year at the end, because seems like 2011 was a bad year for me, for you, for most of you. (Smiling.)
I don’t consider myself that good to consider the 2011 like a bad year, you know. I am doing a good year playing finals in Australia and semifinals here, for me, for myself, is a very good start of the year. ” - when asked what it would take to consider it a good 2012.
Withdraws from the semifinals in Miami with left knee pain April
“I am not ready to compete, and I cannot go on court and lie to everybody. That’s the thing today.” - in his withdrawal presser
Won his 8th consecutive Monte-Carlo title April
Became first player in the Open Era to win a tournament 8 years in a row April
“No, Djokovic wasn’t the real best Djokovic. In other finals that I played against him, I wasn’t my real best, too. But the real best are both. My real best is when I play well and when I play bad. The real Rafa is not only when I play my best. The real Rafa is when I play well, when I don’t play that well. If I take that for myself, the same for the others.” - in his post-final presser
“So a few facts must be unified finally to happen this very special situation, and happened, so very happy. Just can say thank you very much all the organization, all the people who came here support me year by year, all the people who make possible this tournament. Is fantastic because probably is one of the best organizations of the world.” - in his post-final presser
Won his 7th Barcelona title (a record for the tournament) April
Became first male player in the Open Era to win 2 different tournaments 7 times April
Won his 77th match in a row in April April
“It’s almost unimaginable to win here seven times. It’s a special tournament for me, at home in my club. To win at home in front of the people you know is always more special. I played at a very high level to win in Monte-Carlo and now Barcelona without losing a set, but I’ve been playing at a high level from the beginning of the year starting in Australia.
The emotions are always high, but probably each year they get a bit higher as you are one year older and you don’t know how many chances you are going to have left.” - in his post-final presser
Announced the ALMA NADAL exhibition May
Reached the round of 16 in Madrid May
“The ATP and the tournament can do what they want. I tried my best since I arrived here on Thursday trying to prepare as best I can for the tournament. I wasn’t good enough to adapt my game to this court. The only thing I know is that if things continue like this, I’m very sad, but next year it will be one less tournament in my calendar. I think the tournament is great but that is a bad decision.” - in the presser after his loss
Won his 6th Rome title (a record for the tournament) May
Became first male player in the Open Era to win 4 different tournaments 6 times May
Regained record for most 1000 Masters tournaments (21) won May
“Can I play better? Yes. Can I play much more better? I am not that good.” - in his post-final presser
“He is always the favourite, even if I win against him seven times; he is the best player in the world on this surface.” - Novak Djokovic
“I am happy that I won in Rome without losing a set against the best players in the world like Berdych and Ferrer and Djokovic. I will have this trophy in my bedroom. It is a dream. [I have] the confidence I am playing well and this comes when I play at the right level. Hopefully I will keep playing like this.” - in his post-final presser
Became the youngest and fastest player to reach 150 wins in slams June
“All my life I worked hard on the court, I was able to go on the court and practise for six hours when I was 14-15 — sometimes. Not all the time. Today is different. When I started on the tour, if I didn’t play for two weeks I felt completely out of rhythm. Now I can be away from tennis for 12 to 14 days, come back and don’t have a bad feeling. I don’t need to practise as much and the important thing is how you practise and what you practise.” - in an interview with The Times
“The image of a beautiful court is amazing. Tennis means things to me and the people, emotions that are hard to find in another sport.” - in an interview with The Times
Will play in the round of 16 of Roland Garros the day after his birthday June
I put this together in a hurry. Please forgive and let me know about any errors!