Starting the season from just outside the top-200, the 16-year-old Rafael Nadal revealed his full potential already in the first couple of months of the season. The youngster advanced into four Challenger finals in the opening three months, winning the first title Barletta and earning five ATP wins on beloved clay in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Hamburg to find himself in the top-80.
An elbow injury prevented Rafa from making Roland Garros debut that June, skipping pre-Wimbledon events as well before entering his first Major at the All England Club, just after the 17th birthday. In the first round, Rafa defeated Mario Ancic in four sets, becoming one of the youngest players with a victory at Wimbledon and making the story even better following a win over Lee Childs that propelled him into the third round.
There, world no. 11 Paradorn Srichaphan proved to be too strong, ousting Rafa 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 in just under two hours. Rafa grabbed two breaks but lost serve six times, building a 4-2 lead in set number two before losing ten of the final 12 games to send the rival into the last 16, still ending his first Wimbledon campaign with positive vibes.
"It was a pleasant experience to compete in the main draw at Wimbledon. It's a new surface for me and that makes you realize you have to work on shots that are not that important on clay, like serve. Also, I played three matches on a high level, which will help me a lot in future development.
I didn't start well today, getting broken in the first game; that's never a good sign on the fastest surface. I had to chase the result and was two breaks down in the closing stages of the opener before pulling one break back.
I also had a chance to level the score at 5-5 but I didn't. In set number two, I was 4-2, 30-0 up before starting to hit double faults and miss shots in the crucial moments. Overall, it has been a good tournament; I won two matches on grass, the surface I hadn't played at for a year, losing to world no.
11. The young players are eager to learn how to compete on the fast surface. Guys like David Ferrer, Fernando Verdasco, Feliciano Lopez and Tommy Robredo are already good on grass, they can reach the latter rounds here in the future."