Nineteen years after making his Wimbledon debut, Rafael Nadal is still aiming for a third All England Club title. Rafa played his first Major at Wimbledon 2003, starting the list around 200th place and making an impact in the first few months.
The 16-year-old Spaniard claimed the first Challenger title in March and showed his great potential in Monte Carlo and Hamburg. Nadal skipped Roland Garros with an elbow injury and arrived unprepared at Wimbledon for his first major tournament a couple of weeks after his 17th birthday.
In the first round, Rafa dispatched another youngster, Mario Ancic, 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-4 after a grueling three hours and four minutes, becoming the third youngest player with a win at the All England Club after Boris Becker and Mats Wilander.
There were 30 break chances in total, with Nadal rejecting 11 of 14 to limit the damage in his games. Rafa broke five and went on top for a historic triumph over a player who had beaten Roger Federer in the first round a year earlier.
Playing at a high level in his debut on the fastest surface, Rafa controlled the pace in the first two sets. He struggled a bit in the third and fourth, but found a way to seal the deal and set up the second-round clash against British unknown Lee Childs.
"I didn't miss much in the third set, maybe after playing too much defensively; I played my best tennis in sets one and two. It was my Major debut, and I was a bit nervous and scared. Last year I played junior Wimbledon and I did well; this year, it's a shame he couldn't play the events leading up to Wimbledon.
I like to play on grass, I may not be able to produce my best tennis on this surface, but so far it has been good for me."
Nadal will return to Montreal
Rafael Nadal expressed that he has always trained with the sole focus of improving himself.
He stated that it has motivated him to give his best shot each and every day. "It is important to go to training every day with the illusion of learning and that is what we try to teach. Training for training doesn't make sense, you always have to go to the track with the aim of improving something even if you don't get it later.
That, mentally, helps you a lot to be awake and active. I don't understand life any other way," the Mallorca native said on the same.