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.

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Rafa by the numbers

6 Grand Slam titles, 3 Davis Cup, 1 Olympic gold medal, 18 Masters Series titles. At 24, the only trophy missing to his impressive collection is the US Open crown.

Some of Rafa’s records:
– 81 consecutive wins on clay
– 18 Masters Series titles
– 6 consecutive titles in a tournament (Monte Carlo)
– the only player to win 400 singles matches in fewer than 500 matches played
– the only player to win all 3 clay court Masters Series in the same season
and on and on

Here you can find the details of Rafa’s singles titles:

Grand Slam:
You can click on the column to sort by year, championship, surface…

Year Championship Surface Opponent in the final Score in the final
2005 French Open Clay Mariano Puerta 6–7(6), 6–3, 6–1, 7–5
2006 French Open (2) Clay Roger Federer 1–6, 6–1, 6–4, 7–6(4)
2007 French Open (3) Clay Roger Federer 6–3, 4–6, 6–3, 6–4
2008 French Open (4) Clay Roger Federer 6–1, 6–3, 6–0
2008 Wimbledon Grass Roger Federer 6–4, 6–4, 6–7(5), 6–7(8), 9–7
2009 Australian Open Hard Roger Federer 7–5, 3–6, 7–6(3), 3–6, 6–2

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[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gEHBhd2c1s[/youtube]

Sam Stosur advances to the semifinals : she could have won easily 6-2 6-3 but she missed the occasion and Serena came back. The Australian saved a match point at 5-4 (30-40) in the third and defeated the world number one 6-2 6-7 8-6.

Two little videos of Sam Stosur, 2007 French Open:

[flickrvideo]http://www.flickr.com/photos/tennis-buzz/2400251237/in/set-72157603930017545/[/flickrvideo]
[flickrvideo]http://www.flickr.com/photos/tennis-buzz/2400286533/in/set-72157603930017545/[/flickrvideo]

This afternoon, Sam Stosur will meet Jelena Jankovic, and Elena Dementieva will face Francesca Schiavone.

Other surprise today: Jurgen Melzer beat world number 3 Novak Djokovic. The Serb lead 2 sets to love and a break but Melzer worked it hard and won in 5: 3-6 2-6 6-2 7-6 6-4.
Big desillusion for the Serb who should focus on his game instead of playing the drama queen.

Stat of the day: 1
Of all the 8 semifinalists, Rafael Nadal is the only one to have already won a major.

In recognition of Rafa’s 24th birthday, Tennis Buzz features today ’24 Hours of Rafa’ – a full day of Rafa articles, photos and videos.

Rafael Nadal

Some big names crashed out today at Roland Garros:

– Number 6 seed Andy Roddick was ousted in straight sets by qualifier Teimuraz Gabashvili. I ‘ve seen Gabashvili play twice: once in a Futures tournament in Lille a couple years ago and last Saturday in Roland Garros, when he was playing an exhibition set against Gianni Mina during Benny Berthet Day. I must say he is a solid player but I wasn’t really impressed by his game.

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