Rafael Nadal made his Monte Carlo Masters debut in 2003 at age 16, qualifying for the main draw and advancing to the third round for an impressive Masters 1000 debut. Rafa defeated world no.7, Albert Costa, before losing to Guillermo Coria in straight sets. Two years later, the young Spaniard went all the way to claim the first Masters 1000 trophy at 18 after beating Coria in four sets. A year later, Nadal defeated Coria, Gaudio and Federer en route to his second Monte Carlo crown, backed up by another victory over Roger in the title clash in 2007. In his third consecutive Monte Carlo final against Federer, Nadal lifted the fourth crown in the Principality and chased the fifth consecutive trophy in 2009. Facing Novak Djokovic in the final, Rafa beat the Serb 3 6-3, 2-6, 6-1 after two hours and 43 minutes to celebrate the fifth consecutive Monte-Carlo title. Rafa was delighted with his performance after the match, saying that he has always liked to compete in this event and gain confidence at the beginning of the clay tour. It was their seventh meeting on clay and Nadal’s seventh win, as he held the lead in sets one and three with seven breaks in his tally of 14 chances. Two incredible point guards added numerous extended rallies, and the match would have lasted more than three hours had they played a couple more games in the decider. Djokovic did his best to stay aggressive and impose his shots, making 50 unforced errors as he tried to break Nadal’s resistance and losing ground in the final set after a wonderful performance in the second.
Nadal is a former No.1
In his book, Rafael Nadal: My Story, Nadal has detailed why he chose the left hand over the right hand in tennis. He said, “I’ve seen reports in the news media saying that Toni forced me to play left-handed, and that he did this because it would make me harder to play against. Well, it’s not true. It’s a story the newspapers have made up. The truth is that I began playing when I was very small, and because I wasn’t strong enough to hit the ball over the net, I’d hold the racquet with both hands, on the forehand as well as the backhand.” On gaining an advantage while playing left-handed, Nadal said, “People say this gives me an advantage on the double-handed backhand, and that may be right. Having more feeling, more control on both hands than the majority of players has to work in my favor, especially on cross-court shots, where a little extra strength helps.”