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On this day in 2002, 15-year old Rafael Nadal made his professional debut

Rafael Nadal defeated Ramon Delgado 6-4, 6-4 at the Mallorca Open in his debut match

Rafael Nadal made his debut on this day and won his first ever professional match, becoming only the ninth player in the Open era to do so before the age of 16. Nadal had only played three matches before, one at the Futures level and two at the Challenger level, but he broke through in his ATP debut, breaking serve five times to defeat the 25-year-old Delgado, 6-4, 6-4, in an hour and 23 minutes. Delgado was a quality opponent—he was ranked No. 81 at the time and had gone as high as No. 52 a few years earlier.

Nadal lost in the second round of Mallorca that year to a No. 70-ranked Olivier Rochus, 6-2, 6-2, and would spend the next 11 months exclusively playing Challengers and Futures again—winning 60 of the 70 matches he played. Nadal returned to ATP-level competition ranked No. 109 in Monte Carlo in 2003.

Over the next 19 long years, the Spaniard has gone on to win 91 ATP-career titles including a record 21 Grand Slams. The former World no.1 is presently gearing up for the Roland Garos, starting in May – aiming to win the French Open title for a record 14th time.

Rafael Nadal is set to be back on court after being out of action for close to two months

Rafael Nadal suffered a stress fracture in his rib which ruled him out for more than six weeks. Nadal complained of a chest issue during his run to the final of the Indian Wells Masters in California. Upon his arrival in Spain, Nadal visited his team in Barcelona for tests which revealed a ‘stress fracture of the third left costal arch.’

Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Miami Open to manage his workload and keep himself fit for the clay-court season. The Spaniard’s plans of preparing for the clay-court season were definitely hampered due to the rib injury. He missed the Monte Carlo Masters, a tournament played on clay surfaces and is considered to be an ideal warm-up event leading to the Roland Garros in Paris. However, Nadal should be fit in time for the Grand Slam in Paris in pursuit of a record 22nd Grand Slam.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal took to social media to announce his return to training sessions after being out of action for more than four weeks.“Today after 4 weeks without stepping on a tennis court, first light training. What an illusion to step in the earth again”, Nadal wrote in his tweet last week.

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