Rafael Nadal made his Grand Slam debut on June 23, 2003, at Wimbledon, a couple of weeks after his 17th birthday. Nineteen years later, Rafa is the most decorated player at Majors in tennis history, proudly lifting 22 trophies since 2005.
While the other players of his generation were preparing for the junior season, the 16-year-old Nadal had more serious business at the beginning of 2003. The youngster reached the final of the Hamburg Challenger, broke into the top 200 and continued his incredible path.
to the top of men's tennis. The teenage extraordinaire posted 19 Challenger wins during the first three months of the season and broke into the top 150. In April and May he went even further after scoring five ATP victories in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Hamburg to introduce himself to the tennis world.
Rafa missed Roland Garros with an elbow injury and was ready to play at his best again at Wimbledon, just after his 17th birthday. Fighting on the professional circuit since 2001, Nadal had only played two junior tournaments in his career.
One of them was at Wimbledon 2002, when he reached the semi-final, losing to Lamine Ouahab in straight sets. Twelve months later, the Spaniard was ready to make his professional debut on grass, playing his first match on the hallowed courts of the All England Club on June 23 against Mario Ancic.
Rafa defeated the tough Croatian 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-4 in three hours and four minutes to become the third-youngest player in the Open Era with a win at Wimbledon, after Boris Becker and Mats Wilander. Rafa only had two aces available, but he knew what he had to do against the player who ousted Roger Federer a year earlier.
Rafa was undergoing a new treatment
"I can walk normal most of the days. That's for me the main issue. When I wake up, I don't have this pain that I was having for the last year and a half. The overall feelings are positive, no, because I am in a positive way in terms of pain, and that's the main thing", Rafael Nadal said when asked of his injury.
He went on to say that the fact that he is in London and prepping for the third Major of the year is proof enough that all is well with him. "I'm enjoying playing on grass three years later. If I'm here it's because things are going well, otherwise I wouldn't be here. I'm happy," said Nadal.