Competing at Roland Garros 17 times, Rafael Nadal claimed 13 titles and suffered only three losses, the most recent to Novak Djokovic in June. Rafa made a debut in Paris in 2005, his breakthrough season that made him the second-strongest link on the Tour.
The young Spaniard won two titles on clay in February, reached the final at the Masters 1000 event in Miami and lost to Roger Federer in thrilling five sets. A teenager started a fantastic streak from Monte Carlo, rattling off four straight titles and passing one rival after another on the ATP ranking list.
With two Masters 1000 crowns and a Major on his tally, Nadal became world no. 3 after Roland Garros, a few days after turning 19, celebrating the last Major title for a teenager and setting eyes on more glory in the rest of the season.
Nadal experienced a short grass swing in Halle and Wimbledon before returning to his beloved clay in Bastad and Stuttgart. Rafa extended his winning streak on the slowest surface to add a couple of trophies to his cabinet, standing as world no.
2 ahead of Montreal, where he was the top seed after Roger Federer's withdrawal. Taking a well-deserved rest before Canada, Nadal was among the players to beat in the quest for his first hard court title, kicking off the campaign against his countryman and friend Carlos Moya.
Rafa defeated Carlos 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 in two hours and 38 minutes for a winning start.
Rafael Nadal claimed the Roland Garros title on debut in 2005.
Despite facing only one break point and never losing serve, Nadal had to work hard to secure the triumph, wasting 13 out of 15 break opportunities and failing to win a point in the second set tie break.
Starting all over, the youngster grabbed a break in the decisive set to find himself over the top. After the match, Nadal stated that he felt pressure in Paris after never playing at Roland Garros before. That wasn't the case in Montreal despite being the top seed and among the title favorites.
"Carlos Moya is a good player; I knew it wouldn't be easy. I had many chances in sets two and three, unable to convert many of those and finish the job earlier. We always practice together in Mallorca, and he is my best friend on the Tour.
It was vital for me to work with the top-10 player as a junior. I'm usually excellent at converting break chances, but that didn't work today; Carlos served well while facing break chances. I don't feel the stress as the top seed; I always want to win all the matches at every tournament.
I felt the pressure at Roland Garros, not here in Canada. The first match is never easy, and I'm happy with the way I played. Carlos and I shared the plane, and we knew we are playing in the first round," Rafael Nadal said.