“We have to take care of it”

Rafael Nadal had barely played in junior events before embracing a professional career, pushing the age limits like almost no one before and finding himself in the top 50 in 2003 at 17! The Spaniard had 14 ATP victories that season, and everything was set for an even stronger 2004, especially after the first ATP Finals in Auckland.

Rafa stunned world number 1 Roger Federer in Miami in two easy sets before injuring his left ankle in Estoril against Richard Gasquet. This forced him to miss almost three months and the Roland Garros debut. The Spaniard returned in July and lost to Gastón Gaudio and David Ferrer in the quarter-finals in Bastad and Stuttgart.

The youngster couldn’t find form in North America, bidding farewell early to Toronto and Cincinnati. Nadal returned to Europe and his beloved clay court, entering the ATP 250 in Sopot. Facing just one top-100 player, Rafa beat five opponents in straight sets to win his first ATP crown on August 15, becoming the youngest Tour champion since Lleyton Hewitt in Adelaide in 1998.

Nadal’s biggest hurdle in the standings was Victor Hanescu in the first round. The teenager won it 6-4 6-4 in 80 minutes, breaking the Romanian three times to book a place in the second round. He edged out Arnaud Di Pasquale to earn a spot in the fifth ATP quarter-final of the season.

Instead of Friday, he had to face Franco Squillari on Saturday due to rain. The youngster beat his rival four times to forge a 6-3 6-4 win and stay on the title trail. Later in the day, he was expected in the semi-final by a former champion of Rome and Barcelona, ​​Felix Mantilla.

Nadal will be back this week

Rafael Nadal said players must come to accept that only one can emerge victorious at the end of a tournament and that it is normal to lose a lot of matches in one’s career.

“The fact is that at the end of the day when you play this sport you know that at the end of the week there will only be one guy with the trophy. The normal thing every week is to lose The dynamics and the sport change very quickly and you have to be ready to accept both things, the wins and the amazing things that can happen but at the same time injuries, hard times, losses. is part of our sport and we have to deal with it,” Nadal said.

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