Probably the match which really launched Nadal‘s pro career.
Playing his first full season on the ATP Tour, Nadal won his first title in Sopot, Poland and was one of only four players to beat Roger Federer.
He made his Davis Cup debut in the first round of Davis Cup 2004 against Czech Republic, losing the first match against Jiri Novak but winning the decisive fifth rubber against Radek Stepanek and qualifying Spain for the quarterfinals.
Nadal was decisive once against in semi vs France: he beat the pair Clement/Llodra partnering Tommy Robredo, and he replaced Moya for the reverse singles and beat Arnaud Clement to clinch Spain’s victory.
Spain (Ferrero, Moya, Nadal and Robredo) faced the USA (Roddick, Fish, Bryans) in final on the red clay of Seville.
98 Roland Garros champion Carlos Moya defeated Mardy Fish in straight sets in the opening rubber.
The lowest ranked Spaniard (n°51), Nadal had only been expected to play the doubles alongside Tommy Robredo but he was named to replace Ferrero in singles.
2004 was a nightmare season for’03 FO champion Juan Carlos Ferrero: despite making the Oz Open semies, his ranking dropped from third to 31st. He didn’t win any title that year and finally, he was overlooked in favour of the 18-year-old Mallorcan.
Arrese’s decision proved to be the right one as Nadal beat world number two Andy Roddick 6-7(6) 6-2 7-6(6) 6-2. It was the second meeting between those two as Roddick won easily 3 months earlier in the second round of the US Open.