Rafael Nadal: 'Many people doubted my grass-court abilities when I was younger'

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Rafael Nadal: 'Many people doubted my grass-court abilities when I was younger'

Making an ATP debut at home in Mallorca in April 2002, the 15-year-old Rafael Nadal experienced the magic of the top-tie professional level. A teenager became one of the youngest players with an ATP victory, leaving his junior journey behind and looking forward to testing his abilities against much older and more experienced rivals.

Rafa scored 19 Challenger wins in the first three months of 2003 to crack the top-150 before notching five ATP triumphs in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Hamburg to make a name for himself. Nadal had to pass what could have been an impressive first appearance at Roland Garros due to an elbow injury, and he made a Major debut at Wimbledon without testing events on grass before London.

Nadal competed at Wimbledon a year ago at the junior level, reaching the semi-final and gathering experience and confidence on the surface he was unfamiliar with. Playing his first professional match at Wimbledon, Rafa took down a big server Mario Ancic.

By the draw's will, the Spaniard had an easy day at the office versus Lee Childs in the second round, becoming one of the youngest players in the Wimbledon third round in the Open era alongside Boris Becker and Mats Wilander.

Skipping Wimbledon in 2004 due to an injury, Rafa suffered an early loss to Gilles Muller a year later, working on his game and delivering the necessary updates to become a contender on grass in the upcoming years.

Rafael Nadal reached the third round at Wimbledon on his debut in 2003.

In 2006, Nadal survived a thrilling contest against Robert Kendrick in the second round, battling from two sets to love down and raising his level to advance into the final.

There, he won a set against the defending champion Roger Federer before falling in four sets. The same rivals battled for the crown a year later as well, and Roger prevailed in the decider to keep the trophy in his hands. Determined to transform his improved abilities on the fastest surface into titles, Nadal would win both the Queen's and Wimbledon in 2008, making a big step on his path towards the greatest players of all time.

Rafa grabbed his second Wimbledon crown two years later, securing the second "Channel Slam" and writing history. "It's true that my style of play and my way of understanding tennis had led many people to believe that my game would never be suitable for this surface.

However, both my team and I did notice I was capable of playing well on grass. In the end, confidence and positivity helped me convince myself that I could play on every surface, including the most extreme one. I made the semi-final at Wimbledon as a junior and reached the third round on professional debut," Rafael Nadal said.