Rafael Nadal recalls: 'I was better in tennis than football'

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Rafael Nadal recalls: 'I was better in tennis than football'

It's safe to say that the 22-time Major winner Rafael Nadal made an excellent choice when he picked tennis over football. With the Barcelona player Miguel Angel Nadal as one uncle and the tennis lover Toni Nadal as the other, Nadal had the opportunity to embrace both sports and show his skills on the green and red courts.

At 12, the Manacor native decided to choose tennis as his primary sport, working with Toni and becoming one of the greatest players of all time. Kicking off the 2003 season from outside the top-200, the 16-year-old reached three Challenger finals in the first three months before winning the first title in Barletta.

With momentum on his side, Rafa headed to Monte Carlo and qualified for the main draw. The upcoming star ousted the Roland Garros champion, Albert Costa, en route to the third round, gathering a boost and repeating that run in Hamburg.

Struggling with an elbow injury, the youngster missed Roland Garros and pre-Wimbledon events on grass. Nadal entered his first Major at the All England Club a couple of weeks after turning 17 and a year after reaching the junior semi-final.

Nadal beat Mario Ancic 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 after grueling three hours and four minutes.

Rafael Nadal spoke about his favorite sports at Wimbledon 2003.

The Spaniard became the third-youngest player with a victory in the cathedral of tennis after Boris Becker and Mats Wilander!

Both players had their chances on the return. Nadal fended off 11 out of 14 while delivering five breaks to move over the top for a milestone triumph over a player who defeated Roger Federer in the first round a year earlier.

Asked about his uncles, Rafa explained that Miguel Angel played football for Barcelona in the 90s when the entire family cheered for them. Still, Nadal admitted they are the Real Madrid supporters, cheering again for their favorite club once Miguel Angel left Barcelona in 1999 and returned to the local club of Mallorca.

"I picked tennis over football at 12 because I played it better. When my uncle played for Barcelona, the family cheered for them. Before that, we were all supporting Real Madrid. Once my uncle left Barcelona, we were Real Madrid fans again," Rafael Nadal said.