Rafael Nadal gained 150 positions on the ATP list in 2003, winning two Challenger titles from six finals and scoring some notable victories at the Masters 1000 and Major level. In the following season, Rafa was ready to attack higher ranking positions, reaching the first ATP final in Auckland at the beginning of the season and toppling world no. 1 Roger Federer in Miami in straight sets. Still, his progress had to stop after an ankle injury in Estoril, staying away from the court until July and needing time to regain the form despite the first ATP title in Sopot in August. The youngster got the opportunity to play against France in the Davis Cup semi-final in Alicante in September, beating Arnaud Clement in straight sets and hoping to make the squad for the final in Seville versus the USA. Four years after the first, Spain conquered the second Davis Cup title in front of the partisan crowd of 25,000, with Nadal performing on a very high level to oust world no. 2 Andy Roddick in the second rubber.
Rafael Nadal defeated Andy Roddick in the 2004 Davis Cup final in Seville.
Carlos Moya sent Spain in front with a commanding triumph over Mardy Fish before an 18-year-old Nadal stepped on the court instead of an injured Juan Carlos Ferrero. In his fourth Davis Cup singles rubber that year, Nadal prevailed over Roddick 6-7, 6-2, 7-6, 6-2 in just under three hours and 40 minutes, propelling his country 2-0 up after the first day and starting a massive celebration with his teammates. Roddick gave his best to stay in touch with the young opponent, taking the opening set in the tie break and reaching another one at 1-1. Nadal survived all the challenges in the third set and dominated the fourth to seal the deal and claim one of his dearest triumphs.
“I think I claimed victory because the crowd was there to support me; it was essential for me. I had some notable matches in every stage of my career, and this is one of them, especially after that injury. I played on a very high level; I deserved the triumph after working very hard on the practice court. It was a tough year for me, and I’m thrilled with how I performed today. Andy’s serves reached 230 km/h; I’m happy with how I returned them, particularly in the most critical moments in the tie breaks. After the match, I didn’t remember Roddick or McEnroe or anything; all I wanted was to celebrate with my teammates. I learned today that I have to calm down a bit during the match and get less excited. The Davis Cup is a completely different competition from any other, which helped me believe that I’m a good player. Also, I have left injuries behind me, bringing the confidence back ahead of the new season. About the doubles, the decision is not on me; we shall talk with the captain later,” Rafael Nadal said.