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In Rafael Nadal’s words: ‘I’m capable of playing well on every surface’

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Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal needed 14 months to gain some 160 positions on the ATP ranking list, standing just outside the top-200 at the beginning of 2003 and entering Indian Wells and Miami a year later from the top-40. At the beginning of 2004, Rafa played in his first ATP final in Auckland and reached the third round at the Australian Open before earning the first Davis Cup triumph.

 

 
Rafael Nadal yatch

With a few more wins in the upcoming events, the young Spaniard came to Miami where he stunned world no. 1 Roger Federer 6-3, 6-3 in 70 minutes, producing fantastic tennis that left the Swiss with no answer. Federer wasn’t at his best after winning Indian Wells in the previous week but we can’t take anything away from Nadal who did everything right on the court, landing 81% of the first serve in and never facing a break point.

Rafael Nadal and sister

With a room to push hard on the return, the 17-year-old created seven opportunities and converted three to control the scoreboard all the time and advance into the last 16. Taming his shots nicely, Rafa was able to dictate the exchanges and impose his strokes, exploiting Roger’s backhand and staying focused from start to finish to earn a notable victory over the rival who became world no.

1 less than two months ago. “I’m trying to hit my serve harder in every match; that’s the way to improve my game and be more aggressive. I have changed my movement a little bit to step in and go for the shots. Last week against Calleri, I didn’t serve well in the closing stages and I lost.

Rafael Nadal

I always said that I’m a type of player capable of performing well on every surface. I have been playing well on clay because I grew up on it, but also on grass and outdoor hard courts. I didn’t play well indoors last year but mostly because I was tired, being my first season on the ATP Tour.”

WATCH: When Fabio Fognini Destroyed Rafael Nadal at the Monte-Carlo Masters
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal has dominated on the clay-court like no other player in the history of the sport. It takes a herculean task for any opponent to get the better of Nadal on clay. However, the entire tennis world was shaken when Fabio Fognini defeated Nadal in straight sets at the 2019 Monte-Carlo Masters.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal was aiming to reach his 13th finals at Monte-Carlo as he met Fognini in the semifinals. However, the flamboyant Italian, who was struggling with his form, surprised the ‘King of Clay’ with his unpredictable performance. Fognini defeated Nadal 6-4, 6-2 in just one hour and 36 minutes to reach his maiden ATP Masters 1000 finals.

Fognini claimed 11 of 14 games after being 1-3 down in the first set to stun the 11-time champion. Nadal’s loss ended his 18-match and 25-set winning streak on his favorite surface. This was Fognini’s fourth victory in 15 encounters against Nadal.

Rafael Nadal

“One of the worst matches on Clay in 14 years” – Rafael Nadal
Fognini entered the tournament with a five-match losing streak on clay. Moreover, he started the event with a substandard performance in the first round against Andrey Rublev.

However, he denied his sixth straight defeat on the surface after a set and break down as he won the first round in a three-setter. Subsequently, Fognini took everyone by surprise as he went on to clinch his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title.

Rafael Nadal

Fognini certainly upped his level against Nadal. He was successful in taking the time away from the Mallorcan at every opportunity. He took advantage of almost every short balls from Nadal and pushed him on the back foot, forcing him to make more errors.

It was unquestionably one of the most remarkable victories of Fabio’s career. On the other band, Nadal described his loss as “one of the worst matches on clay in 14 years.”

Rafael Nadal Hailing

With this victory, Fognini became the second player after Novak Djokovic to defeat Nadal at the Monte-Carlo Masters after the quarterfinals. It was also the first time in the history of Monte-Carlo Masters when both the finalist reached the championship match for the first time.