RAFAEL NADAL has been awarded Spain’s highest sporting honour the Gran Cruz de la Real Orden del Mérito Deportivo (the Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Sporting Merit) following his latest triumph at the French Open Tournament in Paris.
He clearly savours the clay surface of the Roland Garros Stadium as this is his 13th win there and he has now amassed 20 Grand Slam singles victories to tie with Roger Federer as the two lead Novak Djokovic (who Nadal destroyed in Paris) with his 17 victories.
Government Minister María Jesús Montero in announcing the decision to grant this award said “We are honoured to give this distinction to one of Spain’s and the world’s greatest athletes of all time. It is a pleasure to do so for a person who is a role model for the young and who makes us all better.”
Former recipients of the award include Vicente del Bosque, manager of the World Cup Winning Spanish Football Team, David Cal, Olympic canoeist, Andrés Iniesta as he retired from football and the late skier Blanca Fernández Ochoa.
Still younger than Federer, if Nadal can keep healthy, there is every chance that he can capture more major tournament wins and become the most successful male tennis player of all time but first he will look forward to returning home to Mallorca.
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