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The Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar is celebrating a very special anniversary this week as tomorrow is a key date in Rafa Nadal’s professional career; it will be 15 years since his first professional title.

 

On 15 August 2004, in Sopot (Poland), Rafa Nadal entered the ATP Tour winner’s circle for the first time. At just 18 years and two months of age, Rafa became the youngest player to win an ATP tournament since Lleyton Hewitt did so in Delray Beach at the same age in 1999. The original trophy, which is housed in the Museum in the Rafa Nadal Academy, is today one of the most sought after pieces by fans that come to Manacor.

 

Nadal, who went into the tournament as the sixth seed, gave away no sets in the first three rounds against Victor Hanescu (6-4, 6-4), Arnaud Di Pasquale (6-2, 6-4) and Franco Squillari. He also cruised through his semi-final against Félix Mantilla (7-5, 6-1) to reach the second final of his ATP career. While two months earlier in Auckland, Rafa was unable to get past the Slovakian Dominik Hrbaty, at the second time of asking he managed to see off José Acasuso 6-3, 6-4 to complete the perfect tournament.

 

As well as the golden trophy presented to him by the event organisers, the ATP subsequently gave him a crystal trophy with a commemorative framed photo for winning his first title on tour. Interestingly, the ATP misspelled the champion’s surname (“1st ATP Title Rafael Nadel”), something often pointed out by visitors at the Rafa Nadal Museum Xperience as they notice the mistake made when Rafa’s surname was not so familiar to the general public.

 

Fifteen years later, Rafa’s successful career has produced a total of 82 singles titles for the Museum, as well as number 83, which he picked up last week in Montreal and will soon join the others in his trophy cabinet when he returns home from the US Open. All of them are special and each one has its own particular story, but the one from Sopot will always have a special corner in the Rafa Nadal Museum Xperience.

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