Rafael Nadal made his debut at the Monte Carlo Masters in 2003 at age 16, qualifying for the main draw and advancing to the third round for an impressive Masters 1000 debut. Rafa defeated the world no. 7, Albert Costa, before losing to Guillermo Coria in straight sets.
Two years later, the young Spaniard went all the way to win the first Masters 1000 trophy at age 18 after beating Coria in four sets. A year later, Nadal defeated Coria, Gaudio and Federer en route to his second Monte Carlo crown, backed by another win over Roger in the 2007 title clash.
In his third consecutive Monte Carlo final against Federer, Nadal lifted the fourth crown in the Principality and chased the fifth consecutive trophy in 2009. Facing Novak Djokovic in the final, Rafa beat Serbian 3 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 after two hours and 43 minutes to celebrate Monte Carlo's fifth consecutive title.
Rafa was delighted with his performance after the match, and said that he has always liked to compete in this event and gain confidence at the beginning of the clay tour. It was his seventh match on clay and Nadal's seventh win as he held the lead in sets one and three with seven breaks on his 14-chance tally.
Two incredible base players put together numerous extended rallies, and the match would have lasted more than three hours if they had played a couple more games in the deciding match.
Swiatek on Rafael Nadal
At the French Open 2021, both Rafael Nadal and Iga Swiatek lost their title defense campaign.
However, before the start of that tournament, the defending champions took to the practice courts together. Notably, it was a birthday present for Swiatek from her psychologist. “Tennis-wise, I don’t think he was playing 100%,” Swiatek laughed nervously.
“First of all, I was so excited because that was my birthday present from my psychologist. I was not expecting that at all. I was not sure if I would talk to him normally or I would stutter,” she continued. “So, I learned that he is a normal guy, and that’s the best part of it because it feels like the success did not change him”.
Nadal announced an end to his 2021 season two months ago because of a chronic foot injury. The injury resurfaced during the semifinals of this year’s French Open against Novak Djokovic. Following his French Open loss, Nadal withdrew from the Wimbledon Championships and the Tokyo Olympics.