Baby Rafa at Wimbledon

Look at him storming the net! (And losing the points!)

This was in 2003 in the round of 32. The opponent is Paradorn Srichaphan (THA) who was then ranked 11. Rafa was ranked 76. So, not too surprising that Rafa lost 4-6, 4-6, 2-6.

Other parts:

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9

39 Responses

  1. miri says:

    Announcer says, “Won’t be long until he can play well on this surface.” No. Not long. In 3 years, he was in the final. 5 years later, he won…

    And the forehand prep is killing me. Seems like his racket is high up in the air forever before he swings.

    • faeaki says:

      And the forehand prep is killing me, Seems like his racket is high up in the air forever before he swings.

      Thats excatly what I was thinking! My mother first saw Rafa @ Wimby before me in 2003 and thought he was what she called at the time “useful”.. how is technique has evolved, and just watching his enthusiasm for playing on grass hear, but his lack of experience so clearly showed but he definatley has never lacked’ in heart!

  2. Annie says:

    OMG, he looks sooo young! How old was he? 17? and is this the main draw? Wow.

  3. Annie says:

    I’m impressed he made it to the 3rd round too.

  4. Dianne says:

    This is great! Isn’t it funny how we can recognize the legs of Uncle Toni and how he sits before even knowing it was him in the box? Taking careful notes, I’m sure.

  5. eva says:

    He’s improved everything except the butt-picking, no? Hope that ends soon too. Maybe he can substitute that with tummy scratch or something.

  6. Amber says:

    So strange without the bellowing grunts. I think they help his game. :)

  7. Mithi says:

    i don’t know why but it felt as though he used to be a lot more aggressive in his early days. but his shot making was not as great. but now he has this amazing shot making ability but he doesn’t come to the net so much anymore. even his serve. there was something much more aggressive until 2005. i wish he’d get back that form but with today’s shot making abilities. now that would be apocalyptic. i can see him winning EVERYTHING! :D

  8. miri says:

    And less than a year later: ranked 34 and beating Fed in Miami. And a year after that – getting a lesson in 5 setters from Fed. He would take that lesson to heart as he now has the best 5 set record…ever.

    • cath says:

      Do I understand correctly? He has lost only 3 matches that went to 5 sets? So that would be the 2005 loss to Federer in Miami and the 2006 and 2007 losses to Federer at Wimbledon, and all other 3 out of 5 losses didn’t go to 5 sets?

  9. nidserz says:

    Has he grown taller since then? Not sure when he stopped growing LOL, but he looks so small out there!

    • faeaki says:

      I guess the baggy shirt combo don’t help him to look too tall anyway!!! *hates Rafa in baggy shirts* bless he was indeed a babe back then, so cute!

    • CC says:

      I’m not gonna watch this because of my stupid eyes, but the thought of Rafa *growing* is…nice.


  10. abbey says:

    i wonder who the other two people in his box were. anyone knows?

    • robert says:

      The complete crew was there, from R to L: Toni in the corner, next to him Carlos Costa (manager), then his first physio (before Maymo, an older guy, forgot his name), then his father in a reddish shirt, his sister with pony tail, his mother in grey stripes and white slacks…

  11. rafafan says:

    Just watched some of this and it’s amazing how aggresive baby rafa is constantly going to the net. Wish he would do that more in his games now. Yes faster between points but the grunts seem extraordinarily loud and the bum picks. They were constant weren’t they. At least this seems to be before the habit with the socks! Loved the short shorts.

  12. steph says:

    1. the shorts
    2. the lines(women) clothes…

    are you sure this is 2003??? feels like 1970.. :)

    rafa is lovely as always.. :)

  13. JC says:

    Looking at this, it’s obvious that the whole “sleeveless shirt/capri pants” look was some Nike PR guy’s wet dream. Rafa clearly doesn’t give a toss what he’s wearing! :-)

  14. Moothong says:

    This WB 03, is the first time I saw Rafa in that TV channel and became his fan since then. Though he lost in 3:0 but you can see his determination and his willingness to risk the game, dare to play at net.
    I remember that I ran to check who the hell is this young boy, and follow up his tennis all the way long. Now it is already close to 8 years.
    He makes me pound to be his tennis fan.
    Vamos Rafa

  15. Kim_Rafa says:

    Was his previous physio Juan Forcades? who still works with him back home in Mallorca? x

    • robert says:

      No, Joan Forcades is not a physio, he is Rafa’s fitness coach (that guy with pony tail and red polo featuring in those fitness CDs). Forcades is a Mallorcan gym teacher, quite a colourful off-beat character.

      The previous physio could be one Pedro Salas, a physio working with Toni Colom (local tennis coach at Rafa’s school), but I’m not completely sure of the name. I do remember reading it was an older guy who couldn’t commit to constant travel, so Rafa was lucky to find Maymo instead.

      • abbey says:

        i remember that his old physio’s name was juanan. don’t know the last name though. i initially thought that the person beside rafa’s mom is part of the team, but maybe not.

        • robert says:

          Yes, you’re on to something: it was Juan Antonio Martorell, nicknamed Juanan, who used to be Rafa’s physio before Maymo. The change happened sometime in 2007, I believe.

          He’s also from Mallorca and was at one time working with both Rafa and Moya, as well as with the football club Real Mallorca as their physio (fisioterapeuta or recuperador deportivo).

          Found an article from 2006 describing Rafa staying at a Wimbledon rented house for the first time, containing words “su fisioterapeuta, Juan Antonio Martorell”:

  16. Kathy says:

    Miri, this is wonderful, thanks so much! Love to see baby Rafa play!

  17. Susanna728 says:

    Wait – why was Rafa playing Wimbledon (and also the US Open)in 2003 when he didn’t play Roland Garros until 2005? My Rafa-knowledge and rankings expertise don’t extend back that far.

  18. Denizen says:

    Coincidentally, he was clubbing with Paradorn just a few months ago in Bangkok. Things have certainly changed since 2003.

  19. cookie says:

    Thank you, Miri, it’s so amazing to be able to see the “youngster Nadal” cut his teeth on the Wimbledon green in 2003. He had so much promise even then.

  20. Bobby says:

    Cath, I think that 3rd 5 setter that Nadal played and lost was against Lleyton Hewitt during 2005 Australian Open 4th round.

  1. February 9, 2011

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