'Rafael Nadal was only a kid when we played in the Davis Cup,' says former No. 1



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'Rafael Nadal was only a kid when we played in the Davis Cup,' says former No. 1

While his coevals were making the first junior steps, Rafael Nadal was already embracing a professional career, eager to prove himself among the older and established rivals. Nadal gained 150 positions on the ATP list in 2003, winning two Challenger titles from six finals and scoring some notable victories at the Masters 1000 and a Major level to become the youngster to watch.

Rafa was ready to attack higher ranking positions in the following season, reaching the first ATP final in Auckland at 17 and toppling world no. 1 Roger Federer in Miami in straight sets. An ankle injury from Estoril halted Nadal's progress, and he stayed away from the court until July, finding his form again and winning the first ATP title in Sopot in August.

In September, the youngster got the opportunity to play against France in the Davis Cup semi-final in Alicante, beating Arnaud Clement in straight sets and securing a spot in the final against the USA in Seville. Four years after the first, Spain conquered the second Davis Cup title in front of the partisan crowd of 25,000, with Nadal performing on a very high level to oust world no.

2 Andy Roddick in the second rubber.

Andy Roddick shared thoughts about 2004 Davis Cup clash vs. young Rafael Nadal.

Carlos Moya sent Spain in front with a commanding triumph over Mardy Fish before an 18-year-old Nadal stepped on the court instead of injured Juan Carlos Ferrero.

In his fourth Davis Cup singles rubber of the season, Nadal defeated Roddick 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-2 in three hours and 40 minutes, propelling his country 2-0 up after the first day and starting a massive celebration with his teammates.

Roddick gave his best to stay in touch with the young opponent on his least favorite surface, taking the opening set in the tie break and reaching another in the third. Carried by the partisan crowd, Rafa claimed the second and fourth sets in style and prevailed in that third set tie break to secure the victory and move his country closer to the finish line.

Speaking about the match almost 16 years later, while watching it on the ITF Youtube channel, Roddick joked it is evidence that he won a set against Nadal on clay and gave confidence to the 11-year-old to chase 19 Major crowns.

"Proof that I won a set against Rafael Nadal on clay. He was 11 years old at the time, and there was not much else to celebrate over the next three sets, but those seem like unimportant details from where I sit. If anything, I just gave him the confidence to win 19 Majors," Andy Roddick said.