Rafael Nadal recalls: 'I made a debut in 2003, and now I'm standing on five titles'

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Rafael Nadal recalls: 'I made a debut in 2003, and now I'm standing on five titles'

Rafael Nadal made a debut at Monte Carlo Masters in 2003 at 16, qualifying for the main draw and advancing into the third round for an impressive Masters 1000 debut. Rafa took down world no. 7 Albert Costa before losing to Guillermo Coria in straight sets.

Two years later, the young Spaniard went all the way to conquer the first Masters 1000 trophy at 18 after edging Coria in four sets. A year later, Nadal defeated Coria, Gaudio and Federer en route to his second Monte Carlo crown, backed by another victory over Roger in the title clash in 2007.

In his third straight Monte Carlo final against Federer, Nadal delivered the fourth crown in the Principality and chased the fifth consecutive trophy in 2009. Facing Novak Djokovic in the final, Rafa beat world no. 3 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 after two hours and 43 minutes to celebrate the fifth straight Monte Carlo title.

Rafael Nadal claimed five consecutive Monte Carlo titles between 2005-2009.

Rafa was delighted with his performance after the match, saying he has always loved to compete at this event and gather confidence at the beginning of the clay swing.

It was their seventh meeting on clay and seventh victory for Nadal, who had the upper hand in sets one and three with seven breaks on his tally from 14 opportunities. Two incredible baseliners embraced numerous extended rallies, and the match would have lasted for over three hours had they played a couple of more games in the decider.

Djokovic gave his best to stay aggressive and impose his strokes, spraying 50 unforced errors while trying to break Nadal's resistance and losing ground in the final set following a marvelous performance in the second.

"It's important for me to start the clay season with a win; it's good for my confidence. I never expected to claim five Monte Carlo titles; it's one of the most important events, and some of the world's best players have played here over the years.

I made a debut here in 2003, and now I'm standing with five titles. Everything about this tournament is special. Novak is an excellent player on every surface and among the world's best players on clay. Playing against him is never easy, and today was not an exception," Rafael Nadal said.