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 Australian Open third round.
In February, the 17-year-old made the Davis Cup debut and scored a decisive triumph over Radek Stepanek before 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 and 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, but not playing that many matches in the following two months. Despite that, the upcoming star got a chance to compete in the Davis Cup final against the USA in Seville, facing world no.
2 Andy Roddick on Friday, December 3.
Rafael Nadal was ready for Andy Roddick clash in the Davis Cup final in 2004.
"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 tennis level, but I feel confident after great practice runs this week.
I have recovered, and I'm 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 a bit nervous, which is normal for 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," Rafael Nadal said.