Rafael Nadal was set for an even more powerful drive in the following season after making significant improvement in 2003. Early in the 2004 season, the 17-year-old made it to the inaugural ATP final in Auckland and went to the third round of the Australian Open.
When Richard Gasquet injured his left ankle in Estoril, Rafa’s rise to the top 30 was stalled. In Miami, Rafa upset world No. 1 Roger Federer in straight sets and entered the top 30. Nadal missed Wimbledon and Roland Garros but made a July comeback in Bastad.
Rafa lost his opening match in Canada and Cincinnati after reaching the quarterfinals in Sweden and Stuttgart. He then left for Europe to compete in a minor clay-court ATP 250 tournament in Sopot. As the youngest ATP champion since 1998, the teenager battled all the way against opponents outside the top 80 to win his first ATP title. After taking a well-deserved rest, he returned to the US Open.
Ivo Heuberger of Switzerland was defeated by Rafa in New York’s opening round in five sets. The kid persevered through sets three and four before triumphing in the championship set to face world number two and defending champion Andy Roddick.
The Spaniard struggled against one of the favorites for the title, but he prevailed decisively 6-0, 6-3, 6-4 in 1 hour and 36 minutes. Despite serving at 82 percent, Nadal was unable to make any headway with his serve. He dropped serve seven games and was hampered by an elbow at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where he was unable to perform at his customary level.
Nadal lauded his opponent and claimed that in order to defeat him, he had to play his best game, which he was unable to achieve. “I had a minor elbow issue today, so I didn’t feel like I could serve at my best.
If you don’t put your best self out, it’s difficult to compete with someone like Roddick. I didn’t play my best today, and if you don’t play your best game against Andy Roddick, you won’t win.
Rafa Nadal and Mouratoglou
Rafael Nadal‘s deadly topspin forehand was recently explained by renowned coach Patrick Mouratoglou.
According to Mouratoglou, “He started with very strong claycourt trends, but throughout the years he has technically worked extremely hard on it to make it adaptable to every surface.” He begins by pushing his racquet back with his non-dominant arm while aiming the head of the racquet up toward the sky.
Now notice that his right arm is only beginning to advance as his racquet head is falling to begin his motion toward the ball. His bodyweight shifts simultaneously from the back to the front to produce a powerful body transfer.