Rafael Nadal was the youngster on a mission at the beginning of 2003, reaching four Challenger finals and winning one title to move closer to a place in the top-100 at 16. Making his Masters 1000 debut as a qualifier in Monte Carlo, Nadal showed his full potential and ousted Karol Kucera in the first round before toppling the reigning Roland Garros winner Albert Costa in the second for the first top-10 victory and a place in the last 16. There, Rafa faced Guillermo Coria and fought well in the opener before the Argentine clinched a 7-6, 6-2 triumph in an hour and 34 minutes. Both players created eight break chances, and Coria seized five of those. Guillermo got broken thrice and controlled the pace after that tight opener that he claimed following Nadal’s forehand error at 6-3 in the tie break. At 5-1 down in set number two, Rafa pulled one break back before giving serve again in the next game following a poor drop shot that propelled Coria into the last eight. Despite the loss, the youngster was pleased with his performance that week, feeling a bit tired but eager to continue with good results.
Rafael Nadal reached the third round at his Masters 1000 debut in Monte Carlo 2003.
“I’m happy with this tournament and how I played today despite the loss, as I produced solid tennis and created opportunities. Guillermo was physically stronger than me. I had played many matches in the last couple of days, and I felt a bit tired, I have to admit. My shots were not where I wanted them to be, and Guillermo overpowered me; he deserved victory. I defeated Costa yesterday, but there was not possible against Coria. Although I’m happy with a 7-6, 6-2 loss, that’s not that bad versus such a good player. I will take some rest tomorrow and start preparing for Barcelona after that. Instead of Valencia, I will play a Challenger in France at the end of April, with Valencia organizers not confirming a wild card for me. Nothing will change after Monte Carlo; despite a good result, I will continue with what I have been doing every day. At events like this, you learn how to play on a high level, and I will try to keep it in the upcoming weeks. People keep asking me about Richard Gasquet, and I can not say much. We played at juniors, but we never talked much; my English is not that good,” Rafael Nadal said.