2004 Davis Cup: Nadal defeats Roddick

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 2003 French Open 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.

A visibly unhappy-to-be-benched Ferrero:

Juan Carlos Ferrero

A nervous Moya:

Carlos Moya

And a victorious Rafa:
“This has certainly been the match of my life”, said Rafa after the match. If only he knew …

Rafael Nadal

More screenshots of the match on my Flickr account.
Rafa seems to have lost a bit of aggressivity compared to his early years (more than 50 winners in 4 sets against Roddick), but he has dramatically improved his backhand and his serve. And the passion is still there:

Ferrero and Robredo conceded the doubles to twins Bob and Mike Bryan. But it wasn’t enough to stop Spain en route to its second Davis Cup victory.
Carlos Moya, who had missed Spain 2000 Davis Cup win due to a back injury, won the battle of the n°1s against Roddick and secured the win for the Spaniards.

Rafa’s victory over Roddick gave him a huge confidence boost: the next year he captured 11 titles, including the first of 4 consecutive French Open titles and shed
49 spots from his ranking, from 51 at the end of 2004 to n°2 in 2005.

– the 2004 DC final was played in front of a record 27200 people crowd
– Nadal played in the 2004 final, but he was also present at Spain’s first Davis Cup triumph: aged 14, he carried his nation’s flag
– Nadal at 18 1/2 yrs became the youngest player to register a singles victory in a Davis Cup final for a winning team

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