On June 23, 2003 Rafael Nadal made his Wimbledon debut with a 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 win over Mario Ancic. Here’s what our champ had to say after his debut.
Q. Fine performance, great match, but was there a risk of it slipping away in the fourth set?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: A little bit, like in the third set, maybe when, you know, I wasn’t missing that much, I was playing too defensive. In the fourth set, a little bit. Yeah, I mean, it was my first main draw match in a Grand Slam, so I was a little bit nervous, just a little bit afraid. But, you know, that happened in the third set. In the fourth set, then I was fine. But I played my best tennis in the first two sets.
Q. How do you like playing at Wimbledon? How do you like the grass?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: Yeah, last year I already played in the Juniors, and I played quite well. This year it was a pity that I couldn’t play the lead-up tournaments to Wimbledon. But I think I like to play on grass. Maybe I will not play very well on grass, but I like to play on grass, and it’s going my way.
Q. Is it true that you’re related to the footballer Nadal?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: Yes, that’s my uncle.
Q. How long have you been practicing on grass before the tournament, due to your elbow injury?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: Yeah, from Friday night, like one hour, and then Saturday and Sunday, here.
Q. When did you recover completely from your elbow injury?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: Playing at my top level, like since last Monday.
Q. I think your next match could be against a British guy, which means you could be on Centre Court. How would you feel about that?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: I wish. I’m looking forward to playing on Centre Court. I would like that.
Q. How does being related to your uncle help you in situations, pressure situations?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: Yeah, they always ask me the same question. My uncle, you know, plays soccer. The person that helps me, that’s his brother, my other uncle. That’s the guy that really helps me for my tennis career. He was also his tennis coach when he was little, my other uncle that is now a soccer player.
Q. Why tennis, not football?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: Because when I was little, I was playing better tennis than soccer. I played soccer until I was 12.
Q. Your uncle played for Barca, but you’re a big Real fan.
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: No, of course, when my uncle was playing for Barcelona, I mean, we wanted Barcelona to win. Before that, my whole family was for Real Madrid. After my uncle left the Barcelona team, then we’re all for the Real Madrid again. I’ve got nothing against Barcelona, but I prefer Real Madrid to win.
Q. How does he feel about David Beckham playing for Madrid?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: Well, it’s a good transfer. Every year Real Madrid has got a good transfer like this one. Maybe my opinion is that they needed somebody, you know, to play on the defense. But I don’t know which role he’s going to be playing.
Q. Do you have any family backup here, as well? Do you have your family with you?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: I’ve got my uncle – the one that coaches me – not the football player, my father, my mother and my sister.
Q. What’s the name of the uncle who is your coach?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: Tommy.
Q. You said earlier in the year that everything was happening very quickly for you, that all the success was coming along much earlier than you expected. Do you feel the same about playing at Wimbledon?
RAFAEL NADAL-PARERA: Yeah, I started out the year pretty well. Well, actually it’s already like the middle of the year. Here it was different because, of course, I couldn’t prepare for this tournament properly, and I couldn’t compete for a month, which is a long time for a tennis player. Frankly, yeah, I did not expect to win the first round here, especially against him because I knew he had beaten Federer last year, so I knew it was going to be tough. But, you know, I played well. Sure, I mean, I did not expect to win this match.
Source: ASAP Sports