Rafael Nadal made Wimbledon debut in 2003, a few weeks after turning 17. The Spaniard advanced into the third round as one of the youngest players in the Open era alongside Boris Becker and Mats Wilander, hoping for more of the same in the years to come.
Rafa skipped Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2004 after suffering an ankle injury, bouncing back stronger in 2005 as the top-10 player following titles in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome. In his first appearance in Paris, Rafa secured the first Major title a couple of days after the 19th birthday.
He became the last teenager with a Major crown and focused on Wimbledon. Alexander Waske took down the upcoming star in the first round in Halle, and Rafa looked better in London, beating Vincent Spadea 6-4, 6-3, 6-0 in an hour and 31 minutes in the Wimbledon first round.
Rafael Nadal lost to Gilles Muller in the Wimbledon 2005 second round.
Nadal dropped 16 points in 12 service games and saved the only break chance he faced to mount the pressure on the other side of the net. Spadea failed to follow that pace, giving away almost half of the points behind the initial shot and suffering six breaks from 12 opportunities given to Rafa.
The Spaniard lost to a giant server Gilles Muller 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 28 minutes in the second round. World no. 69 fended off 12 out of 13 break chances to leave Nadal with almost no pace on the return and secured one break in each set he won to move over the top and advance into the last 32.
Rafa converted that one break chance in the second set to remain in contention and could not repeat that in the rest of the clash to finish the grass-court swing with only one win that June. Nadal was aware that he had to improve some aspects of his game to be competitive at Wimbledon in the years to come, and he worked hard on them to reach the final a year later.
"Gilles Muller played on a high level today. I had my chances in the first and third sets but could not seize them. Still, he was better than me, and that's why he won. I said the other day it would be difficult to pass a big server, which happened today.
I have to improve some elements of my game to win Wimbledon, and I'm working on that. My serve and volley should work better on grass, and I also need more confidence. I'm tired now, playing many matches in the previous month, with only a couple of days off.
I have to recharge the batteries at home in Mallorca for a week. After that, I'm playing Bastad, Stuttgart, Umag, Montreal, Cinncinati and the US Open. I'm ready to play the Davis Cup if the captain invites me," Rafael Nadal said.