Rafael Nadal finished the 2004 season with the Davis Cup crown and set his sights on high goals in 2005. After losing a close duel to Lleyton Hewitt at the Australian Open, Nadal traveled to Argentina, Brazil and Mexico and competed in his dear clay court.
The youngster won consecutive titles in Costa Do Sauipe and Acapulco and was just outside the top 30 at the age of 18. Nadal skipped Indian Wells and returned to action in Miami. He beat Rainer Schuettler and Fernando Verdasco to reach the round of 16 for the second year in a row, having defeated Roger Federer in the third round 12 months earlier.
Rafa had to work hard against Ivan Ljubicic in the fight for the quarter-finals, beating the Croatian 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 in two hours and 44 minutes. Nadal suffered just one break and won three back games from 12 chances to emerge victorious.
Ljubicic fought well in the second set to knock him down in the tie break before Nadal rallied in the decider to cross the finish line first and put Thomas Johannson in check. Rafa praised his serve after the match and said that it worked much better than in previous rounds.
Furthermore, Nadal brought up that remarkable victory over Federer a year ago, calling the Swiss the greatest player and bringing back fond memories of their first meeting. «I won the match because I played very well and stayed aggressive.
Ljubicic not only served well, but also performed at a great level from the baseline, putting a lot of pressure on me. I had to fight a lot and come back well; that was the critical element. The Key Biscayne surface suits my game, it’s not too fast and I like it.
I love how my serve worked today; It has been much better than in the previous rounds. I’m trying to improve all the shots, controlling the balls much better than before. I would also like to have a better backhand cut and am working on it.
You always have motivation, but it is even greater when you face someone from above.»
Mannarino talks about Federer
Adrian Mannarino talked a lot about Roger Federer during an interview with the German outlet Tennisnet.
Having revealed some secrets about his famous 2021 Wimbledon 1st round match against the Swiss, during which he had to surrender, the Frenchman spoke about the impact and personality of the man with 20 Grand Slam titles.
“He was a great role model for all tennis players. He was such an inspiration to all of us and we were very lucky to have him there. He took tennis to another level. It was very difficult to keep up with him. He was very personable both on and off the pitch and it would be nice to have more role models like him.
But it will remain unique. It was good to be on the court with him a couple of times. I have fond memories of that, even if I lost every time (7-0 heads-up, editor’s note). It was always special to play against him”, said the 44th in the world.