WAY BACK WHEN: Remembering the first ATP title ever won by an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal

If you are asked to think about iconic tennis venues, then Sopot, Poland probably doesn’t leap to mind. If that is the case, though, you probably aren’t a Rafael Nadal fan.

It hasn’t actually been part of the ATP Tour now since 2007, but it holds a unique slice of tennis history.

That is because, all the way back in 2004, it was the venue that saw Rafael Nadal win his first career title.

It was, as is perhaps fitting, a humble competition for one of the mist humble champions sport has ever known to collect his first meaningful silverware. Nowadays it would be called an ATP250, but back then it was part of the International Series.

Nadal was a fresh faced 18-year-old returning from an ankle injury. He was ranked 71st in the world at the time, and that was enough to make him the sixth seed for the competition.

Don’t be fooled into thinking the tournament didn’t attract big names, though. Former world number one Marat Safin was the top seed, and former world number threes Nikolay Davydenko and David Ferrer were also involved.

So too, though, was clay, and as we know very well now, that means that Nadal was always going to be a serious force to be reckoned with.

Maybe it should surprise no one, then, that Nadal breezed through the tournament without losing a set.

Nadal’s Sopot 2004:

R1: Victor Hanescu 6-4, 6-4
R2: Arnaud Di Pasquale 6-2, 6-4
QF: Franco Squiilari 6-3, 6-4
SF: Felix Mantilla: 7-5, 6-1
F: Jose Acasuso 6-3, 6-4

Safin, incidentally, was knocked out on round two by Marc Lopez, who would later go on to win a Doubles gold medal with Nadal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Ferrer was beaten by Acasuso in the same round, and Davydenko a first-round casualty of Adrian Garcia.

“I needed a tournament win like this after my injury, I just hope that it’s not the last one,” said the 18-year-old Nadal.

“After this tournament, I’ll be in the Top 50. To see me in 70th place after being 30th before my injury, it wasn’t easy.”

Please follow Tennisbuzz on Twitter and Instagram, and you can like us on Facebook by clicking here.

For more exclusive content from Tennisbuzz, including news, features, trivia, promotions and more, please be sure to sign up for our newsletter below or via our home page.

Why not test your tennis knowledge by tackling one of our fiendish quizzes too?

Other News

‘We don’t want Roger Federer in Novak Djokovic half at Wimbledon,’ says coach

Goran Ivanisevic has admitted that he would like to avoid getting Roger Federer in the same half of the draw as Novak Djokovic at...

‘I tell myself each match could be my last,’ says a reflective Andy Murray after Queens win

Andy Murray made a triumphant return to tennis at the Queens Championship and said after he is just trying to make the most of...

Top seed Daniil Medvedev crashes out of Halle but Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev through

Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev have booked their place in the second round of Halle, but top seed Daniil Medvedev has taken a surprise...

Novak Djokovic to start his Wimbledon preparations by playing Mallorca

It has been confirmed that Novak Djokovic will start his grass preparations at the maiden Mallorca Championships by playing in the doubles tournament.The event,...

‘I love playing tennis,’ says an emotional Andy Murray after triumphant return to Queens

Andy Murray made his return to grass tennis with a win over Benoit Paire at the Queens Club Championships in two straight sets.Murray, who...

‘Life isn’t about winning or losing’ – Stefanos Tsitsipas reveals personal heartbreak before French Open final

Stefanos Tsitsipas revealed he received the heartbreaking news of his grandmother's death just five minutes before the French Open final.The 22-year-old was playing his...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Don't miss a thing from Tennisbuzz - get all the latest tennis news, exclusive content and competitions, and tennis trivia teasers all delivered to your inbox.

Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here