Rafael Nadal made his ATP debut at the home tournament in Mallorca in 2002 when he was only 15 years old. Immediately, despite the very young age, the now legend of Spanish tennis, showed a great level. He is one of the youngest tennis players in history to have won an official ATP match and in a short time, after 19 victories in the Challenger, he reached the top 150 positions in the world in the first three months.
Subsequently he already gave rise to his value on clay, but an injury stopped him at Roland Garros. It was the Wimbledon tournament the first Slam tournament where Rafa showed his great qualities: Rafa was only 16 years old and defeated in the first round in four sets the Croatian hostile (especially in the service) Mario Ancic.
We are talking about a tennis player who in 2008 won both Queen's and Wimbledon but despite this the Spanish champion has always had several criticisms for his behavior on the grass. Speaking on the podcast hosted by Mary Carillo, Matt Roberts and Christopher Clarey, top coach Larry Stefanki and Rafael Nadal's PR manager discussed the 2008 Wimbledon final between the Spaniard and Roger Federer.
Stefanki on Rafael Nadal
“Rafael Nadal has a great gift of developing and evolving as a tennis player. I would say - ‘Rafa because it's grass you can’t be 30 feet behind the baseline.' He started playing closer to the baseline and he thought - ‘I’m gonna take the ball on the return, right off the baseline.
His footwork started to get more efficient going to right on his backhand side," Larry Stefanki said. "On his forehand he was turning and whacking. He transformed as a tennis player. He changed his court position on the return of serve in 2008 against Roger Federer”.
Rafael Nadal’s PR Manager Benito Perez-Barbadillo recalled that crucial moment and said: “One thing I remember about that final. You find yourself in that position after losing the 4th set and soon going back into the locker room because of the rain.
There’s not a lot of people who would recover from that. I mean you (Rafa) had match points and stuff. I asked Maymo and he said - ‘He’s (Rafa) feeling great, he says he’s not gonna lose, he’s gonna win!
He’s fine!' I’m like 'wow' and I thought he could be so down, so difficult to turn around. And that gave us a lot of confidence in the box to cheer him on”.