Rafael Nadal gained 150 positions on the ATP list in 2003, winning two Challenger titles from six finals and scoring some notable victories at the Masters 1000 and a Major level to become the youngster to watch. In the following season, Rafa was ready to attack higher ranking positions, reaching the first ATP final in Auckland and toppling world no.
1 Roger Federer in Miami in straight sets. His progress was halted after an ankle injury in Estoril in April, staying away from the court until July and needing some time to regain the form despite the first ATP title he claimed in Sopot in August.
The youngster got the opportunity to play against France in the Davis Cup semi-final in Alicante in September, beating Arnaud Clement in straight sets and hoping to be in the squad for the final in Seville versus the USA.
Four years after the first, Spain conquered the second Davis Cup title in front of the partisan crowd of 25,000, with Nadal performing on a very high level to oust world no. 2 Andy Roddick in the second rubber.
Andy Roddick shared thoughts about 2004 Davis Cup clash vs.
young Rafael Nadal.
Carlos Moya sent Spain in front with a commanding triumph over Mardy Fish before an 18-year-old Nadal stepped on the court next instead of Juan Carlos Ferrero, who dealt with an injury. In his fourth Davis Cup singles rubber that year, Nadal prevailed over Roddick 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-2 in just under three hours and 40 minutes, propelling his country 2-0 up after the first day and starting a massive celebration with his teammates.
Roddick gave his best to stay in touch with the young opponent, taking the opening set in the tie break and reaching another one at 1-1. Carried by the partisan crowd, Rafa claimed the second and fourth sets in style and prevailed in that third set tie break to secure the victory and move his country closer to the finish line.
Speaking about the match almost 16 years later, while watching it on the ITF Youtube channel, Roddick said it is evidence that he won a set against Nadal on clay and gave confidence to the 11-year-old to chase 19 Major crowns.
"Proof that I won a set against Rafael Nadal on clay. He was 11 years old at the time, and there wasn't much else to celebrate over the next three sets, but those seem like unimportant details from where I sit. If anything, I just gave him the confidence to win 19 Majors," Andy Roddick said.