To paraphrase Rafael Nadal, “training for training’s sake makes no sense.”

Rafael Nadal made his Major debut at Wimbledon in 2003, just a few weeks after turning 17; he had missed Roland Garros due to an elbow injury. Rafa began the year ranked around 200th, but after a strong showing in a few Challengers, he moved into the top 100 and was able to compete in the main draws at the Majors.

Due to the elbow injury, Rafa missed the grass-court tournaments leading up to Wimbledon and instead faced Mario Ancic in the first round at the All England Club. Nadal won the match in four sets, 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, taking three hours and four minutes.

Against the player who had stunned Roger Federer a year prior, the Spaniard saved 11 of 14 break points and won the match via five breaks. Rafa won the match in four sets, setting up a meeting with an unheralded British player named Lee Childs in the second round.

In a match that lasted just over two hours, Rafa defeated the world number 489 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the Wimbledon third round and pass Mats Wilander and Boris Becker for the youngest player ever. While Childs did well on fast courts, Nadal was simply too good, and Childs only managed to win two breaks from four return opportunities.

The youngster won six return matches out of a possible 19 to extend his lead and advance to the round of 32. “The rain definitely came at a good time for me, as he was having a good at-bat and I was having a bad one. Since I wasn’t at my best in the second set’s climax or the start of the third, I lost the match. I played better in the first round against Mario Ancic than I did today.

That two-set win over Mario remains my best ever on grass. Today I wasn’t at my best because I lacked the footspeed required to play successfully on grass. Whenever I work with a different material than clay, I end up making a few adjustments to my strategy.”

As a champion, Rafa Nadal ranks among the best of all time.

Over twenty years ago, Rafael Nadal was heralded as a “future star” in the sport of tennis. “We emphasize the importance of coming to training every day with the pretension that you will actually be learning something.

You shouldn’t go to the gym just to work on your form; instead, you should have a specific goal in mind for each workout. For your mind, that’s a huge boost to alertness and activity. The alternative is just too confusing for me, “The native Mallorcan echoed those sentiments.