Rafael Nadal: ‘I consider myself a normal driver’

In February 2005, Rafael Nadal faced Ricardo Mello for two and a half hours on his way to the Costa do Sauipe title. Half a year later, the Spaniard would lose three games against the Brazilian in the second round of the Canadian Masters in Montreal to secure a place in the third round.

A lot had happened between those two meetings, with Nadal becoming one of the best players in the world after a fantastic run in his first notable season. In February, Rafa won two ATP titles on clay before reaching the final in Miami and winning the first Masters 1000 in Monte Carlo.

The youngster conquered Barcelona and Rome in the following weeks and made a perfect debut at Roland Garros, beating Roger Federer and Mariano Puerta to lift his first Major trophy. Rafa did not play well on grass, losing early in Halle and Wimbledon to run out of steam a bit.

However, he bounced back quickly, winning titles in Bastad and Stuttgart in July and taking a break before Montreal. Playing for the first time as world No. 2, Nadal opened with victory at the Canadian Masters thanks to a 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 victory over his compatriot and friend, Carlos Moyá.

In the second round, the youngster had a more relaxed day at the office, defeating Ricardo Mello 6-1 6-2 in 66 minutes after dominating from start to finish. The Spaniard gave up 11 points in eight service games, facing no break points and converting 56% of return points to earn four breaks from seven chances and cruise to the round of 16.

Speaking of his game on hard court, Nadal mentioned the improvements compared to the previous season, listing his good results and expecting an outstanding performance in Montreal. “When I played against Melo in Brazil, it was a reliable performance, but without the confidence that I have now.”

Rafa Nadal won 20 Slams
On the court as on the road, Rafael Nadal is a man who respects the rules. Except on that day in July 2006 when he hit a concrete pole with his car. This is what he said in an interview with a Spanish magazine specializing in road safety, Tráfico y Seguridad Vial.

“I like to drive, in the normal way, to get to places where I need the car. Not much more. I like to focus on driving and following the rules. One time I didn’t, over 15 years ago, and had a little mishap [in July 2006, Rafa was a novice driver and crashed into a concrete pole. Fortunately more fear than harm]. Otherwise, I consider myself a normal driver, abiding by the rules.”

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