Rafael Nadal was the youngster to watch in the early stages of 2003, reaching four Challenger finals by March and lifting the trophy in Barletta. Nadal earned his first Masters 1000 wins in Monte Carlo and Hamburg before skipping Roland Garros due to an elbow injury.
Rafa made a return at Wimbledon, playing his first grass-court ATP event after reaching the semi-final at the junior event a year ago. Nadal's Major debut came against Mario Ancic, and the Spaniard scored a 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory in three hours and four minutes.
Nadal defended 11 out of 14 break points and grabbed five breaks to emerge at the top and celebrate his first victory on the most notable scene. Rafa had a massive chance to progress even further after facing world no. 489 Lee Childs in round two.
Nadal secured 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 in the early 80s!
Rafael Nadal suffered his first Wimbledon loss to Paradorn Srichaphan in 2003.
Childs broke Nadal twice, and a teenager grabbed six return games to control the scoreboard and move into the last 32.
Rafa knew it would be tough to pass the third round, and world no. 11 Paradorn Srichaphan proved that on the court. Paradorn beat Rafa 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to end the young Spaniard's journey. Nadal had the opportunity to prolong the opening set and led 4-2, 30-0 in the second before losing ground, taking only two games by the end of the match to terminate his campaign.
Speaking about the tournament favorites, Rafa mentioned Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. He was entirely correct, with the Swiss beating the American in the semi-final en route to his first Major crown. "I do not know if Srichaphan could go all the way.
I think some players have better chances of winning this tournament, like Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. I do not see him as one of the top favorites. The most important thing for young players like me is to get better in those areas where you need to improve your game.
If I want to win more matches, I must work on my serve and develop that weapon. I would have won more matches if I had the same serve as some of the top players," Rafael Nadal said.