'Rafael Nadal wanted to be No. 1 already at 16,' says his former rival

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'Rafael Nadal wanted to be No. 1 already at 16,' says his former rival

Roberto Menendez is a retired Spanish player who was active between 1998 and 2018. Roberto never competed on the ATP Tour and embraced only ten Challenger matches. He spent his entire career on the Futures circuit and played almost 200 encounters at that level.

In 2018, Menendez was still active as a professional, alongside winning the 38th Young Seniors World Individual Championships title in Miami in October. In his interview for the Itf site, Menendez talked about his tennis journey and the will to compete at that age.

Also, the Spanish veteran mentioned the match against a 22-time Major champion Rafael Nadal at the Spain F20 Futures in 2002. The 16-year-old beat him 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 in the opening round before earning four more triumphs en route to the title.

It was Nadal's first complete season on the Futures circuit. He battled against much more experienced rivals and finished on a high note after conquering six titles in under five months! Super talented Spaniard was already ranked in the top-200 at the end of 2002, feeling hungry for more in the following year.

Menendez shared his memories about Nadal, saying that Rafa wanted to be world no. 1 even at such a young age. At 16, Rafa was determined to fulfill his dreams and rule the tennis world, which he did less than six years later!

Roberto Menendez spoke about 16-year-old Rafael Nadal.

Nadal was ready to show his potential on the ATP Tour in 2003. He won 14 matches and reached the third round in Monte Carlo, Hamburg and Wimbledon, followed by the Umag semi-final.

The youngster claimed two Challenger titles and finished the season inside the top-50. Two years later, Rafa became world no. 2 following his first Major crown at Roland Garros and four Masters 1000 shields by his name. The Spaniard was improving his game regularly and took the ATP throne from Roger Federer in August 2008.

Two decades after his professional debut, Nadal is still among the world's leading players, finishing the season in the top-2 after two Major titles in the season behind us. "I lost to Rafa 6-4 in the third set. We did a funny interview on Spanish television with Rafa about seven years ago because they wanted to talk to two current No.

1's in the world. When Rafa was 16, he told me he would not like to be a top-10 player but only No. 1. He was sure about his future, abilities and goals," Roberto Menendez said.

Rafael Nadal