Rafael Nadal was the youngster on a mission in early 2003, reaching four Challenger finals and winning one title to move closer to a place in the top-100 as a 16-year-old. Making his Masters 1000 debut as a qualifier in Monte Carlo, Nadal showed his full potential and ousted Karol Kucera in the first round before upsetting reigning Roland Garros winner Albert Costa in the second for the first top-10 victory.
and a place in the round of 16. There, Rafa faced Guillermo Coria and fought well in the first set before the Argentine cruised to a 7-6, 6-2 triumph in one hour and 34 minutes. Both players created eight break point chances, and Coria converted five of them.
Guillermo broke three times and controlled the pace after that tight first set that he claimed after 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 drop 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’m happy with this tournament and how I played today despite the loss as I produced some solid tennis and created chances.
Guillermo was physically stronger than me. He had played a lot of games 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.
Yesterday I defeated Costa, but it was not possible against Coria. Although I’m happy with a 7-6, 6-2 loss, that’s not so bad against such a good player. Tomorrow I will rest a bit and then I will start preparing for Barcelona.”
Brad Gilbert talks about Nadal
Brad Gilbert suggested that Rafael Nadal has a big challenge ahead of himself in his bid to win big tournaments again.
“He keeps getting nicked up and it’s not the same one, which is most difficult,” Gilbert explained. “When you get older, it’s mentally draining to go through all of these different rehabs. You build up equity when you win matches…Since the French (Open) of last year, he hasn’t won anything.
He’s been hurt and then a few Americans have beaten him, so he’s lost that equity, he has to regain that,” he added.