After passing 150 rivals on the ATP list in 2003, Rafael Nadal set eyes on higher goals in the following season. The 17-year-old played his first ATP final in Auckland in January and defeated world no. 1 Roger Federer in Miami before experiencing an injury that kept him away from the court until July.
In February, Nadal got the opportunity to make the Davis Cup debut against the Czech Republic, delivering the decisive triumph over Radek Stepanek in the fifth rubber to send Spain into the quarter-final. In the upcoming rounds, they hosted three rivals on beloved clay and became favorites to lift the second Davis Cup title after 2000.
Nadal could not play against the Netherlands, returning in the semi-final tie against France and beating Arnaud Clement to help his country reach the final against the USA in Seville.
Rafael Nadal spoke about the 2004 Davis Cup final experience after beating Roddick.
In front of the crowd of 25,000, the young gun stepped on instead of Juan Carlos Ferrero in the second rubber and defeated world no.
2 Andy Roddick 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-2 in three hours and 38 minutes for one of his most significant victories up to that point, propelling Spain 2-0 in front before Saturday's doubles rubber. Roddick gave his best to stay in touch with the young opponent, taking the opening set in the tie break and reaching another one at 1-1.
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. "Playing in the Davis Cup final was always a dream for me.
It is very important for me to be part of the team and get a chance to compete on the court. It was a great match against Roddick, and I'm happy to deliver the second point for our country. It is always critical to winning encounters like this, not only for myself but for the rest of the squad and our captain.
We are in a good position now. I'm quite used to celebrating points, especially in the Davis Cup ties. I had much support from the crowd of 25,000, and it was hard to control emotions in those big points. I will have to tame my celebrations a little bit in the future as I started cramping because of too many jumps during those moments.
I was excited at the end of the first set; I had to calm down and recapitulate my game, which I did in the second set. I think the crowd behaved quite correctly," Rafael Nadal said.