Who is the only player to emerge victorious against Rafael Nadal in Davis Cup history?

Rafael Nadal has been one of the greatest players to ever hold the racket on the court. He became a rising force in the game after winning his first ATP Tour title in Poland in 2004 after turning pro the previous year and winning his first Grand Slam at the 2005 French Open on his debut as a 19-year-old.

With a career permeated by injuries that made him miss four and a half years of Grand Slam tournaments, Nadal still has 22 major crowns and 36 Masters 1000 titles.

Who beat Rafael Nadal in Davis Cup?

On February 6, 2004, it was the Czech Republic’s Jiri Novak who defeated Rafael Nadal on his debut at the Davis Cup. Nadal, just 18 years old, had not been defeated by elite rivals like Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. However, Nadal announced himself to the global audience by beating Roddick 6-7 6-2 7-6 6-2 to spark scenes of exuberant celebrations among the Spanish team and a raucous home crowd in the final of the Davis Cup.

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal’s stunning record at the Davis Cup still stands at 29 wins in singles and only one loss, boasting an incredible win percentage of 97%. After falling to a defeat in his debut match, he went on to win every fixture he has played in the team tournament. The Davis Cup record remains Rafael Nadal’s best W/L percentage for any competition, alongside the French Open, where he has a legendary 112-3 record. Yet, the Spanish star’s 29-match Davis Cup run is third on the list of longest winning streaks in the Davis Cup, with Bjorn Borg second with 33 and Marcos Baghdatis leading the way with 36.

Nadal’s only loss at the Davis Cup to Novak came on a now-discontinued carpet surface. The young Spaniard put up a strong fight to take two sets into the tiebreaker but the former World No. 5 Novak, however, prevailed 7-6(2), 6-3, 7-6(3). He also teamed up with Radek Stepanek to beat Nadal and Tommy Robredo in their doubles tie.

Rafael Nadal had time to bounce back and so he did with a win in his second singles clash of the match against Radek Stepanek. This kicked off the 29-match winning run, which continues unbroken even today. Spain ultimately won the fixture and would go on to lift the Davis Cup trophy.

When will Rafael Nadal return?

Rafael Nadal has not competed in a tournament since sustaining a hip flexor injury in the second-round game at the Australian Open. The 22-time Grand Slam winner, however, revealed in June, after having surgery, that he would be back in 6 to 8 weeks but that didn’t eventually pan out as planned.

In recent weeks, Nadal has posted videos on his Instagram handle that prove how much he is working to get fit with daily training and outdoor practice.

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Recently, he announced via Instagram: “I confirmed yesterday I’ll be back. Stay tuned these days when I decide and announce with my team when and where.”

“I’ve always maintained hope that I would play again,” said Nadal. “How much? At what level? It’s difficult to answer that. I never lost hope I’d play. Things gradually become clear with the passing of the weeks. At the moment I’m on the right track.”

Perhaps, the injury was for good to keep tennis legend fit for 2024 but that would rest on how fast his body can adapt to the physicality and fast pace of the present game.

Victor Okechukwu

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