Rafael Nadal was the youngster on a mission in early 2003, reaching four Challenger finals and winning a title to move closer to a spot in the top-100 when he was 16 years old. Making his Masters 1000 debut as a qualifier in Monte Carlo, Nadal showed his full potential and defeated Karol Kucera in the first round before defeating current Roland Garros winner Albert Costa in the second for the first win against one of the Top 10 and a place in the round of 16.
There, Rafa faced Guillermo Coria and fought well in the first set before the Argentine clinched a 7-6, 6-2 victory in one hour and 34 minutes. Both players created eight break opportunities and Coria took advantage of five of them.
Guillermo broke three times and controlled the pace after that tight first set he claimed after Nadal's forehand error at 6-3 in the tie break. 5-1 down in set number two, Rafa broke before returning to serve in the next game after a poor low shot that propelled Coria into the last eight.
Despite the defeat, the young man was satisfied with his performance that week, feeling a bit tired but wanting to continue with good results. "I am happy with this tournament and with how I played today despite the loss as I produced solid tennis and created opportunities.
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 were not where I wanted them to be and Guillermo dominated me; he deserved the victory.
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 little and then I will start preparing for Barcelona."
Nadal called off his 2021 season
Rafael Nadal resumed training a few days ago, leading many fans to believe that he could be returning to action sooner than expected. However, during a ceremony hosted by the city council of Sant Llorenc des Cardessar, the Spaniard shot down that notion, saying he had not set a date for his return to the tour.
"I want to recover from the injury to return in top condition," Rafael Nadal was quoted as saying by Heraldo. "I don't know when I'll play again, I work a lot every day, I follow a specific plan, obviously with a marked road map and very clear objectives."
He added that he is leaving no stone unturned in his recovery, and expressed hope of being able to play at a high level. "I won't say what the goals are," Nadal added, "because there are things that I can't control one hundred percent, but inside my head I am clear about what my goals are and I trust that things will follow a positive course to be able to try to compete.
I work a lot every day to try first, recover, and second, when I am recovered to be prepared to play again in full condition."