Rafael Nadal, Davis Cup 2004

Nadal Davis Cup debut back in 2004

To this day, Jiri Novak remains the only player to have beaten him in a Davis Cup singles match. Here’s the story of Rafael Nadal Davis Cup debut.

From Nadal’s autobiography, Rafa:

The highlight of 2004 was representing my country in the Davis Cup, the tennis equivalent of football’s World Cup. I made my debut against Czech Republic, when I was still seventeen, and immediately I fell in love with the competition.
First, because I am proudly Spanish, which is not as trite as it sounds, because Spain is a country where a lot of people are ambiguous about their national identity and feel that their first loyalty is to their region. Mallorca is my home and always will be – I doubt very much I’ll ever leave – but Spain is my country. My father feels exactly the same way, evidence of which is supplied by the fact that we’re both passionate fans of Real Madrid, the Spanish capital’s big club.
The other reason I love the Davis Cup is that it gives me the chance to recover that sense of team belonging that I lost, with a lot of regret, when I abandoned football for tennis at the age of twelve. I’m a gregarious person, I need people around me, so it’s a peculiar thing that destiny – largely in the shape of my uncle Toni – should have made me opt for a career in a game that’s so solitary. Here was my chance to share once again in the collective excitement I had felt on that unforgettable day of my childhood when our football team win the championship of the Balearic Islands.

I didn’t have the most promising start to my Davis Cup adventure, though losing my first two games, a singles and a doubles, against the Czechs. It was the toughest possible surface for me, meaning the fastest: hard court and indoors, where the air resistance is lowest. But in the end I emerged as the hero, winning the final and decisive match. Overall, I hadn’t covered myself in glory and might very well have been singled out (“What was he doing there at that age?”) as the reason or our defeat, but when you win the game that clinches victory by the narrowest Davis Cup margin, 3-2, everything is forgotten, luckily for me.

Read more:
2004 Davis Cup drama: Nadal replaces Ferrero

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