After an incredible 2003 season that propelled him into the top 50, 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 of the Australian Open.
In February, the 17-year-old made his Davis Cup debut and scored a decisive win over Radek Stepanek before beating no. 1, Roger Federer in Miami. A left ankle injury in Estoril left Nadal off the pitch for three months, forcing him to skip Roland Garros and Wimbledon before returning 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 also in September, but did not play as many games in the next two months. Despite that, he had a chance to compete in the Davis Cup final against the United States in Seville, facing No. 2 Andy Roddick on Friday, December 3.
Rafael Nadal was ready for Andy Roddick’s crash
“I think Juan Carlos Ferrero should have played the second game 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 were more than 10,000 viewers tomorrow. I’m happy about that. It will be very difficult to beat Andy Roddick, but I am ready. Andy is an excellent player who always delivers a high level of tennis, but I feel confident after great practices this week.
I have recovered and I am ready to play to the fullest. I haven’t played much since Alicante, but I feel positive vibes about this match against no. 2. I am excited to play my first game and a little nervous, which is normal in such an important match.
In January, I was almost a year younger than I am now, and I couldn’t believe that we would get this far and that I would have a chance to play the final. I’m excited about the games and being part of the team, “said Rafael Nadal.