In Rafael Nadal's words: 'I'm ready to challenge Andy Roddick in front of home fans'



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In Rafael Nadal's words: 'I'm ready to challenge Andy Roddick in front of home fans'

After an incredible 2003 season that propelled him into the top-50, the young Spaniard Rafael Nadal was ready for more of the same in 2004, opening the season with the first ATP final in Auckland and the third round at the Australian Open.

The 17-year-old made a debut in the Davis Cup in February, scoring the decisive triumph over Radek Stepanek and beating world no. 1 Roger Federer in Miami. A left ankle injury in Estoril sidelined Nadal from the court for three months, forcing him to skip Roland Garros and Wimbledon before making a comeback in July, winning the first ATP crown in Sopot a month later.

The youngster was there to help the Spanish Davis Cup team in Alicante against France as well in September, not playing that many matches in the following two months but still getting a chance to compete in the Davis Cup final against the USA in Seville, facing world no.

2 Andy Roddick on Friday, December 3. "I believe that Juan Carlos Ferrero should have played the second match tomorrow but the captain decided to trust me and send me to the court instead of him because of his injury.

I can do a good job and I wish there would be more than 10,000 spectators tomorrow; I'm happy about that. It will be very tough to beat Andy Roddick but I'm ready. Andy is an excellent player who always delivers a high level of tennis but I'm feeling confident after great practice runs this week.

I have recovered and ready to play at my best. I haven't played that much since Alicante but I feel positive vibes about this encounter against world no. 2. I'm excited about playing my first match and also a little bit nervous, which is normal ahead of such an important duel.

Back in January, I was almost a year younger than now and I couldn't believe we would go this far and that I would have a chance to play in the final. I'm thrilled about the matches and to be a part of the team."