Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal began their incredible rivalry in Miami 2004, with the young Spaniard dazzling world no. 1 in straight sets. A year later, they reached the final in Florida. Nadal took the first two sets and took a 4-1 lead in the third, moving closer to another win over the best player in the world.
From the brink of defeat, Federer rallied to steal the third set and raced to the finish line in the fourth and fifth. He lifted the trophy and left a teenager empty-handed in his first notable final. Nadal became the second youngest player in the Masters 1000 final.
He didn’t have to wait long to move up to second place, and he did so a couple of weeks later in Monte Carlo on his beloved clay. In the title clash, Nadal faced a formidable obstacle in defending champion Guillermo Coria.
The Spaniard beat the Argentine 6-3, 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 in three hours and nine minutes to become the second-youngest Masters 1000 champion at 18 years and ten months. After two dominant sets, Nadal lost ground in the third, wasting it before opening a 4-1 gap in the fourth for another big step towards the title.
Coria recovered the break and leveled the score at 4-4, with Nadal starting to think about that Miami clash against Federer. Using the experience from that one, Rafa kept his cool and prevailed with a late break in game 12 to surge to the top and celebrate the first notable title of his young career.
Rafael Nadal claimed his first Masters 1000 title at Monte Carlo 2005.
«Yes, this is my best tennis moment, along with last year’s Davis Cup. It’s my first big title and the feeling is amazing. I played well in the first two sets, especially with my forehand.
Then, Guillermo began to play better and I gave away the third set. He too was way behind in the fourth, and had already started thinking about Miami and the same scenario against Roger Federer. I was scared but I managed to come back and win the set 7-5.
I didn’t miss too many balls this week. My groundstrokes worked well and I improved my serve after beating Gael Monfils in the first round. The experience of that Miami match against Roger helped me a lot today. After blowing such a huge lead against him in Florida, he was very focused today.
My concentration was high when I came back in the fourth set, and it was vital for me to get a win at the end. I am happy with how I played this week and I am also tired, which is normal,» Rafael Nadal said.