In Rafael Nadal's words: 'It would be great if I can beat Gaston Gaudio and..'

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In Rafael Nadal's words: 'It would be great if I can beat Gaston Gaudio and..'

Making a debut in Monte Carlo in 2003, Rafael Nadal had qualified for the main draw and scored two triumphs there, ousting Karol Kucera and reigning Roland Garros winner Albert Costa. It was the first notable tournament for the 16-year-old Spaniard, making a name for himself and repeating that result in Hamburg a couple of weeks later.

Nadal won the first ATP title in 2004 in Sopot, struggling with injury and not making progress through the ATP list ahead of 2005 when he set high goals. The Spaniard played well on hard courts in the opening months, reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open and advancing into his first Masters 1000 final in Miami, standing two points away from beating Roger Federer in straight sets and still losing in five.

Between Melbourne and Miami, Rafa claimed two ATP titles on clay in Brazil and Mexico, hoping for more of the same during the European spring clay-swing.

Right after Miami, Nadal lost to Igor Andreev in Valencia, taking a couple of days off and starting all over in Monte Carlo, where he couldn't play in 2004 due to an injury.

In the first round, Rafa ousted his coeval Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-2, advancing into the second round where he proved to be too strong for Xavier Malisse who won three games in total. In the third round, another Belgian was across the net and couldn't do much against the mighty Spaniard either, with Nadal defeating Olivier Rochus 6-1, 6-2 in 64 minutes for the place in the quarters.

Rafa lost ten points in seven service games, getting broken once and keeping the pressure on the other side of the net, enough to steal 60% of the return points and score six breaks that carried him home safely. "It was an excellent match; I started well and grabbed the victory.

I bothered Olivier with high bounce, hit well from both wings and made him run a lot. I lost to Gaudio in Buenos Aires after a strange match; I hope to play better this time and grab a win. It would be great if I can beat him and reach the semis.

It's not easy to play without an efficient serve and you have to run a lot to win a point. I'm working hard on improving my initial shot." In the quarters, Rafael Nadal would meet reigning Roland Garros champion Gaston Gaudio, losing the previous three encounters against the Argentine and planning to change that in Monte Carlo.