September 24, 2001: Rafael Nadal appears in the rankings for the first time

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September 24, 2001: Rafael Nadal appears in the rankings for the first time

While his coevals were making their first steps on the junior tour, Rafael Nadal took a different approach and played just two events on the ITF junior Tour after turning 16 in 2002, reaching the semi-final at Wimbledon and winning the Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final before switching his focus to professional tennis where he started to compete at the age of 14 at the beginning of 2001! Battling against much older and experienced players, Nadal failed to qualify for home Satellites and Futures, also having a chance to compete in the qualifying round of the ATP 250 event at home in Mallorca.

Rafa made his pro debut in the main draws at Spain F10 Futures in Madrid on September 11, 2001, wasting no less than 13 match points against Guillermo Platel-Varas in the opening round! A week later he received a wild card at Seville Challenger for a debut on that level and he ousted world number 751 Israel Matos Gil 6-4 6-4 to claim his first pro win and earn the first five points in a career.

On September 24, Rafael Nadal entered the ATP rankings, placed just outside the Top 1000 and as the third youngest player after Ivan Puchkarov and Richard Gasquet. 17 years later, Nadal is the best player in the world and the 17-time Grand Slam champion and he has been ranked in the Top 10 for 700 straight weeks since 2005! By the end of 2001 Nadal had won seven more matches at Spain 7 Masters to finish the year just outside the Top 800 and he made an amazing progress in 2002 to crack the Top 200.

The rest is pretty much history and in some way it all started on this day 17 years ago when we saw him on the ATP rankings list for the first time. ALSO READ: Laver Cup: Kevin Anderson edges Novak Djokovic as Team World fights back