Rafael Nadal was the youngster to watch in the early stages of 2003, reaching four Challenger finals through March and lifting the trophy at Barletta. Nadal scored his first Masters 1000 victories in Monte Carlo and Hamburg before skipping Roland Garros with an elbow injury.
Rafa made a comeback at Wimbledon, playing his first grass-court ATP event after reaching the semi-final at the junior event a year ago. Nadal’s Major debut came against Mario Ancic, and the Spaniard posted a 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-4 victory in three hours and four minutes.
Nadal defended 11 of 14 break points and collected five breaks to come out on top and celebrate his first win on the most remarkable stage. Rafa had a great opportunity to advance further after taking on world number 489 Lee Childs in the second round.
Nadal cruised to a 6-2 6-4 6-3 win in just over two hours to become the youngest player in the third round of Wimbledon since Mats Wilander and Boris Becker in the early 1980s. Childs broke Nadal twice, and the teenager grabbed six return games to control the scoreboard and move into the last 32.
Rafa Nadal won 22 Grand Slam titles
Winning his 18th Grand Slam match in a row, Rafael Nadal reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the eighth time in his career. “Not just mental tough – a total genius @RafaelNadal last shot.
They are all mentally tough these great Champions but first and foremost they are incredible athletes and technically the best,” Petchey tweeted. In the post-match on-court interview, the second seed expressed his happiness at playing the way he did and reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals without playing on grass for three years.
“I continued in a positive way I think, until the end when I played a bad game at 5-3, it had been a very positive match against a difficult opponent. Botic has been improving unbelievably in the last year, so huge congratulations to him this amazing improvement.
In a personal way, after all the things that happened the last couple of months, to be able to be in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon after three years without playing here, it’s amazing for me, so I’m very, very happy,” Nadal said.
Rafa knew it would be difficult to get past the third round, and world number 11 Paradorn Srichaphan proved it on court. Paradorn defeated Rafa 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to put an end to the path of the young Spaniard.