Rafael Nadal made a name for himself in Monte Carlo 2003, making an impressive Masters 1000 debut at 16. The 16-year-old qualified for the main draw and took down the reigning Roland Garros champion en route to the third round.
Speaking about his impressive debut, Nadal said he would never forget that tournament, which gave him much confidence. Two years later, Rafa became one of the world’s best players at 18, losing a thrilling five-setter in the Miami Open final to Roger Federer and heading to Monte Carlo with a boost.
Nadal missed the Masters 1000 event in the Principality in 2004 and was eager to make another great run in 2005 as he did two years ago.
Rafael Nadal made his Monte Carlo debut in 2003 at 16, winning two matches.
Hoping for more of the same in Monte Carlo, Rafa ousted Gael Monfils in the first match and played an even better one against the Belgian Xavier Malisse in the second, clinching a 6-0, 6-3 triumph in an hour and two minutes to move into the last 16.
Dominating on serve and return, Nadal lost nine points in his games and grabbed four breaks from as many chances to make the strongest start and seal the deal in no time. After the match, Rafa spoke about his first appearance in the Principality.
He qualified for the main draw and made a winning start against Karol Kucera, earning his first Masters 1000 triumph at 16. Nadal met the reigning Roland Garros champion Albert Costa in the second round and scored a notable 7-5, 6-3 victory in two hours.
The young gun cracked the top-100 with those points and secured his first top-10 win at such a young age. Nadal fended off 14 out of 17 break chances to show massive mental strength, fighting for every point and emerging at the top after a grueling battle and five breaks on his tally.
Rafa won the first set with a late break in the 12th game when Costa sprayed a forehand error. The young gun gained a boost and moved in front at 4-3 in set number two. Rafa sealed the deal with a hold at love in game nine to celebrate one of his most notable victories before 2005.
“I have great memories from Monte Carlo. It was my first notable tournament, and I played well, qualifying for the main draw and beating Karol Kucera and Albert Costa. I will never forget that, but I must improve and move further from that third round.
Before Monte Carlo 2003, I played in two Challenger finals, winning the title in Barletta and heading to Monte Carlo with confidence. I won two matches there and proved that I could compete against the rivals from the ATP Tour,” Rafael Nadal said.