16-year-old rising star Rafael Nadal was ready to fight in 2003 after winning many spots on the ATP rankings the previous year, passing over 500 rivals and expecting more of the same in the new campaign. The Manacor native lost three finals earlier in the year before winning the first Challenger crown in the last week of March in Barletta, almost reaching the top 100. A couple of weeks later, the entire tennis world was able to witness the talent and the desire of the young Spaniard in Monte Carlo. Nadal qualified for his first Masters 1000 clay-court tournament and entered the second ATP event of his career after Manacor last spring. Making an impressive debut at the premium tier of the ATP, Rafa dispatched no. 49, Karol Kucera, 6-1, 6-2 in quick 63 minutes, giving away 12 points in eight service games and defending all three break opportunities to keep the pressure on the Slovakian all the time. Dominating in all segments and holding the lead from start to finish, Rafa claimed 56% of the return points and delivered four breaks out of six chances to race to the second ATP win. Sania Mirza believes Roger Federer is the greatest player of all time because his talent level is higher than that of anyone. According to Mirza, even if Rafael Nadal crosses Roger Federer’s record Slam tally, the Swiss would remain ahead because of the ease with which he plays.
Mirza pays tribute to Roger Federer
“He (Rafael Nadal) is definitely the greatest of all time on clay, there’s no doubt about that, but I don’t know if he’s the greatest of all time in terms of just pure talent,” Sania Mirza said. “I think Roger Federer still takes that. I think anyone that knows even a little bit of tennis knows that. I don’t know if you agree with me or not, but when you watch Roger play tennis (it) comes a lot easier to you than it comes from most people in the world.” Mirza then praised the Swiss Maestro’s effortless playing style and joked that he probably doesn’t understand why the other players practice so much. “I always joke saying he must be thinking, ‘A bunch of fools who practice for 5 hours a day’. He must be thinking, ‘Oh my god! It’s so easy I don’t know why they’re practicing’,” Mirza contiued. “So I personally feel that Roger Federer is the greatest ever tennis player, regardless of the numbers, because I think talent wise he is still the best.”