Nadal spoke about his younger days after scoring the first victory at Wimbledon in 2003.
Rafael Nadal recalls: ‘I was better in tennis than football, that’s why I picked it’
It’s safe to say that the 20-time Major winner Rafael Nadal made an excellent choice when he picked tennis as his career. With the Barcelona player Miguel Angel Nadal as one uncle and the tennis lover Toni Nadal as the other, Nadal had the opportunity to embrace both sports and show his skills on the green and red court.
At 12, the Manacor native decided to choose tennis as his primary sport, working with Toni and becoming one of the greatest players of all time. Kicking off the 2003 season from outside the top-200, the 16-year-old reached three Challenger finals in the first three months before winning the first title at that level in Barletta.
With momentum on his side, Rafa headed to Monte Carlo, where he qualified for the main draw and ousted the Roland Garros champion Albert Costa en route to the third round before repeating that in Hamburg. Struggling with an elbow injury, the youngster missed Roland Garros and pre-Wimbledon events on grass, entering his first Major at the All England Club a couple of weeks after turning 17.
Nadal beat Mario Ancic 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 after grueling three hours and four minutes to become the third-youngest player with a victory in the cathedral of tennis after Boris Becker and Mats Wilander, who did that in the 80s!
Rafael Nadal spoke about his early days at Wimbledon 2003.
Both players had their chances on the return, and Nadal fended off 11 out of 14 while delivering five breaks and moving over the top for a milestone triumph over the player who defeated Roger Federer in the first round a year earlier.
Asked about his uncles, Rafa explained that Miguel Angel played for Barcelona in the 90s and that the entire family cheered for them during that decade. Still, Nadal admitted they are the Real Madrid supporters, going back to their favorite club once Miguel Angel left Barcelona in 1999 and returned to the local club of Mallorca.
“I picked tennis over football at 12 because I played it better. When my uncle played for Barcelona, the family was cheering for them. Before that, we were all supporting Real Madrid. Once my uncle left Barcelona, we were Real Madrid fans all over again,” Rafael Nadal said.