Rafael Nadal was the youngster on a mission in early 2003, reaching four Challenger finals and winning a title to close in on a place in the top-100 at the age of 16. Making his Masters 1000 debut as a Monte Carlo qualifier, Nadal showed his full potential and ousted Karol Kucera in the first round before defeating reigning Roland Garros winner Albert Costa in the second for the first top 10 win.
and a place in the round of 16. There, Rafa faced Guillermo Coria and put up a good fight in the first set before the Argentine posted a 7-6, 6-2 win in one hour and 34 minutes. Both players created eight break chances, and Coria converted five of them.
Guillermo broke three times and controlled the pace after that tight first set which he claimed following Nadal’s forehand error at 6-3 in the tie break. Trailing 5-1 in set number two, Rafa grabbed a break before returning to serve in the next game after a poor low shot propelled Coria into the last eight.
Despite the defeat, the youngster was satisfied with his performance that week, feeling a bit tired but wanting to continue with good results. “I am happy with this tournament and how I played today despite the loss as I produced solid tennis and created chances.
Guillermo was physically stronger than me. He had played a lot of matches in the last few days and I was feeling a bit tired, I have to admit. My shots weren’t where I wanted them to be and Guillermo dominated me; he deserved the win.”
Rafa Nadal has returned to training
In his book, Rafael Nadal: My Story, Nadal has detailed why he chose the left hand over the right hand in tennis. He said, “I’ve seen reports in the news media saying that Toni forced me to play left-handed, and that he did this because it would make me harder to play against.
Well, it’s not true. It’s a story the newspapers have made up. The truth is that I began playing when I was very small, and because I wasn’t strong enough to hit the ball over the net, I’d hold the racquet with both hands, on the forehand as well as the backhand”.
Further, he added, “Then one day my uncle said, “There are no professional players who play with two hands and we’re not going to be the first ones, so you’ve got to change”. So I did, and what came naturally to me was to play left-handed.
Why, I can’t tell. Because I write with my right hand, and when I play basketball or golf-or darts-I play right-handed too. But in football I play with my left; my left foot is much stronger than my right”.