After missing Roland Garros due to an elbow injury, Rafael Nadal made his Major debut at Wimbledon 2003, a couple of weeks after turning 17. Rafa started the season ranked around the 200th spot, and he used a couple of great Challenger results to enter the top-100 and find himself in the main draws at Majors.
Rafa could not play pre-Wimbledon events on grass due to that elbow injury, and he faced Mario Ancic in the first round at the All England Club. Nadal scored a 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 triumph in three hours and four minutes for his first Major victory.
Rafael Nadal wrote history at Wimbledon 2003 after scoring two wins.
The Spaniard fended off 11 out of 14 break points and delivered five breaks that carried him over the top against the rival who stunned Roger Federer a year ago.
Rafa sealed the deal in the fourth set and arranged the second-round meeting with the unknown Briton Lee Childs. World no. 489 gave his best against a teenager, but Rafa scored a 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 victory in just over two hours to become the youngest player in the Wimbledon third round since Mats Wilander and Boris Becker!
Childs could play well on the fast surfaces but could not match Nadal's level, earning two breaks from only four return chances. The youngster secured six return games from 19 opportunities to stay in front and find himself in the last 32.
"Yes, I think the rain came at the right moment for me; he was hitting well in those moments, and I did not. I played better in the first round against Mario Ancic than today, as I was not on the desired level at the end of the second and beginning of the third set.
Those two sets against Mario are still my best tennis on grass. Today I was not at that level as I was not fast with my legs, a crucial element if you play on grass. In comparison to clay, I changed a bit of everything in my approach.
The grip on my forehand and backhand is different, and I serve with more slice. The important thing is that my elbow is fine, but I still should lose in the next round. Before Wimbledon, I would have signed a five-set loss in the first round because I could not play for a month. I can only say that I will do my best in the next match, and we will see," Rafael Nadal said.