Rafael Nadal has been a professional for 23 years, skipping his junior days and competing against the more experienced players since he was 15! In one of his first interviews in Monte Carlo 2003, Nadal admitted he trained two times a week in his early tennis years, like many others.
However, he increased his training pace and claimed two national titles at 11 and 12. Nothing would ever be the same for the upcoming champion, who would play his first Satellites and Futures only a few years later. Rafa had an incredible run in 2002 and started the following season ranked just outside the top-200.
The 16-year-old lost three Challenger finals before winning the title in Barletta, achieving all that by the end of March and knocking on the door of the top-100. In April, the tennis world witnessed Nadal's rich talent and potential in Monte Carlo.
The youngster qualified for his first Masters 1000 tournament in Monte Carlo, entering his second ATP tournament after Mallorca a year earlier.
Rafael Nadal spoke about his early tennis years in Monte Carlo 2003.
Rafa made an impressive debut on the premium ATP level, beating world no.
49 Karol Kucera 6-1, 6-2 in 63 minutes. The young gun had the upper hand from start to finish, losing 12 points in eight service games and controlling the pace. Nadal fended off three break points and mounted the pressure on the other side.
Rafa grabbed 56% of the return points and left the Slovak far behind. The Spaniard seized four breaks from six opportunities to race over the top and deliver his first Masters 1000 triumph at 16. Nadal played well in windy conditions, staying aggressive and making the right shots at the right time to leave Kucera behind and set the second-round clash with the defending Roland Garros champion Albert Costa.
"I'm delighted to win the first match; I played well against Karol. I was more aggressive than usual, adjusting to the surface nicely and finding my shots. Like everyone else, I practiced twice weekly and developed a nice touch very early.
I started working increasingly and won two national crowns at 11 and 12. We had windy conditions today, but I'm used to that, just playing my usual game without thinking about whether or anything, as you do not influence that," Rafael Nadal said.
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