Rafael Nadal gained 150 positions on the ATP ranking list in 2003, turning from a teenager to watch into a contender for the ATP titles in seven months. Starting just outside the top 200, Nadal proved that he is too good for the Challenger level in the first three months, winning a title in four finals and preparing for notable appearances in Monte Carlo and Hamburg, still at 16 years old! Rafa skipped Roland Garros and all the events leading up to Wimbledon due to injury and returned to action at the All England Club, where he reached the third round in a debut. The Spaniard returned to clay and advanced to his first ATP semi-finalist at Umag before becoming the champion at the Segovia Challenger. After another injury hiatus, Nadal won a game at the US Open and killed engines for the rest of the year, scoring just two wins after Segovia but still finishing in the top 50. In the Madrid Masters debut, Rafa lost in the first round to compatriot Alex Corretja. The more experienced Spaniard had a terrible season, dropping out of the top 100 for the first time in 11 years, but he still did enough to defeat Rafa 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 in two hours and seven minutes. Corretja won four more points than a teenager, delivering six breaks and leaving the second set behind to prevail in the decider and reach the second round. Nadal was unhappy with his game despite a great year, saying that he still hadn’t found his way after injury and that he didn’t like his defensive style without aggressiveness.
Swiatek on her passion for Nadal
In a an interview with BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells on Monday, Iga Swiatek talked frankly about her emotions at the end of the US Open. She also claimed that Novak Djokovic was the player most likely to complete the Calendar Slam. “I was cheering for Novak to win the Calendar Grand Slam this year because I feel like he deserves it,” Swiatek said. “And if there is anybody that can win a calendar grand slam, it’s going to be him. So I was crying basically when he lost the final of the US Open,” she added. Iga Swiatek did, however, reiterate her adulation for Rafael Nadal in the very next sentence. “But since I was a girl, I am Team Rafa,” the World No. 4 said. Novak Djokovic has, of course, been missing in action since the US Open final. He has had an incredible season overall, winning three Majors on three different surfaces – synthetic (Australian Open), clay (French Open) and grass (Wimbledon).